Want my vote? Dissolve the CRTC

12.23.05

Here’s yet another reason:

For 25 months now, cell-phone users in the United States have been able to change service providers and take their numbers with them. This spares you the laborious process of notifying everyone who has your number that you have a new one now.

[ . . . ]

This week the CRTC has announced, oracularly, that Bell Mobility Inc., Rogers Wireless, and Telus Corp. will have to offer number portability by March 2007 – more than three years after U.S. consumers received this service. This will apply for Quebec, Ontario, B.C. and Alberta; the requirement doesn’t kick in for smaller provinces until six months later.

It’s all part, says the CRTC, of balancing the interests of consumers with the interests of the carriers.

Isn’t it strange how consumers so often come out on the short end of the CRTC’s balancing acts?

All of the cell phone companies in Canada offer overpriced products and horrible customer service. Since Rogers bought out Fido I’ve heard nothing but horror stories from subscribers of both. Telus isn’t any better. Bell Mobility — my phone company — is perhaps the worst offender of all. But because our phones are already locked to our companies, and getting a decent deal on a new phone means locking into another contract, switching is already enough of a hassle. Having the phone number locked into the company is all that much worse.

Local numbers are already portable for landlines; I kept my phone number when I switched my home phone service from Bell to Videotron earlier this year. There’s no doubt the consumer wins when competition is fostered. If the cell phone companies actually had to fight for our loyalty, they might not treat us quite so callously.

The CRTC does little other than “protect the interests” of companies that feed us overpriced crap and prohibit us from getting the stuff we truly want. Any party that promises to immediately scrap it can have my vote in the upcoming election.

The offer’s on the table. Any takers?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaninVan 12.24.05 at 4:40 PM

But it IS a balancing act. CRTC was all over Telus regarding their huge decline in customer service these past three years (due entirely to Telus’ deep staffing cuts and Union intransigence on ‘change’). It was Telus that screwed the subscibers over, not the CRTC.
As annoying as the CRTC is, it’s not so reactionary as their American counterpart. Remember that Janet Jackson brouhaha?

Reply

2 menorah wrangler 12.28.05 at 1:52 PM

As someone who worked briefly in the industry (~ 11 months as technical security consultant)
I noticed the following: (1) Overpriced crap fed to us by the big carriers is there because of
the small user base, compared to the American and European markets (Europeans pay more
by far than we do overall, BTW).

(2) The big mobile carriers have been working on a phone number portability project since 2004.
This is complicated. You need to have competitors, various parties, agree on a common
secure method to exchange information. Besides this being a possibility by the CRTC
(which takes its time), you need to make these projects a priority within each carrier. When
Rogers was taking over Fido last year, phone # portability was of little priority.
(3) The cost to switch. There is little financial benenfit for the providers to provide portability…
consider costs to be absorbed by the consumer for this (rightfully owed) benefit.

Reply

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