Considering Canada’s cellular rates

Recently it was widely reported in the media that Canadians currently face some of the highest wireless cellular rates in the world.

Recently it was widely reported in the media that Canadians currently face some of the highest wireless cellular rates in the world.

Wireless communications is increasingly becoming part of our daily lives — it is how so families keep in contact and also how many in the small business community communicate with customers.

In summary, wireless communication are important to Canadians and it is unacceptable that as consumers our rates are considerably higher than in other countries.

When looking at this industry in greater detail it is also clear that overall it is dominated by a few major players and competition is relatively scarce, and even more so in smaller and rural markets.

It also should not be forgotten that there are still populated areas of Canada that have no service whatsoever.

Clearly when it comes to wireless services in Canada more action needs to be taken on behalf of Canadian consumers.

In 2008 our Government made a point of setting aside wireless spectrum for new companies to utilize — in turn some new companies responded and in certain markets in Canada prices have dropped by roughly 10 per cent.

As a result of this success our Government is looking to offer more wireless spectrum with the next auction occurring in November of this year.

Over the next few months our government will also review existing policies with the objective of increasing competition in the wireless sector.

Ultimately the goal will be to ensure that there are at a minimum four competitive wireless companies in each Canadian market.

Increased competition in the wireless sector in other countries has shown that improved technology is offered sooner and at lower prices.

In addition our government has also announced other changes to the wireless sector that include new regulations to increase cell tower sharing to help reduce the need for more cell phone tower construction.

Regulations have also been introduced to both expand and extend that requirement of wireless companies to provide roaming access to competitors. Other regulatory changes have also been introduced as I referenced in my March report from last year that will allow existing wireless companies with less than 10 per cent market share to be eligible for investment from other countries who typically have more competitive wireless markets.

These changes will clearly take time to fully implement however it is in my view important that government take action to protect Canadian consumers.

Much as a local citizen recently raised an issue with me on a problem with pre-paid credit cards that we are also taking action on, the importance of communication, technology and affordability are concerns that we all share.

As the House of Commons is not sitting this week, I am in the riding concentrating on constituency work and getting feedback on our work in Ottawa.

I will be back in Okanagan-Coquihalla and welcome the opportunity to meet with citizens and to hear your concerns.

I can be reached at  dan.albas@parl.gc.ca or by phone at 250-770-4480 or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla. His blog is DaninOttawa.com and previous MP reports are on line at www.danalbas.com.