The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has decided to hold a consultation to probe the state of Canada's wireless competition. The $17-billion cellular sector has been a topic of debate for years, with consumers upset at paying some of the world's highest prices for voice and data.
Incredibly, acting chairman Leonard Katz stated that the CRTC's practice "has been to rely on market forces as long as we are convinced that the interests of consumers will be looked after." Most Canadian consumers would find this a disturbing notion—or flat-out lie—considering the country has been suffering at the hands of a profit-driven oligopoly for many years. So why has the CRTC suddenly changed its mind when the industry has hardly altered?
“In this case, we are seeking evidence that our intervention is necessary before considering the development of a national wireless code," Leonard explains vaguely. It seems that the CRTC may simply want to appear proactive without actually being proactive. Meanwhile, Canadians spit fire at the telcos for exploiting their excessive power.
It was the CRTC who, in 1994, opted out of regulating Canada's wireless sector. Market forces were supposed to steer the industry's growth, but with just three companies—Rogers, Telus, and Bell—controlling more than 95% of the market, consumers have been victims of a long-standing, oligarchic reign.
The CRTC is not expected to reach a decision on this matter before the end of the year.
Photo: Dan Snyder