The CRTC is moving to create an internet code of conduct.
Canada’s telecom regulator may slap more rules on large internet service providers in the face of rising complaints about their services.
On Friday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission launched a proceeding to establish a mandatory code of conduct for internet service providers to address problems of contract clarity, bill shock and barriers to switching service providers.
There are already codes for wireless and television services. The wireless code, which effectively axed three-year contracts and capped muchloathed roaming and data overage fees, was costly for providers to implement.
With internet access increasingly critical to Canadians, it’s no shock the CRTC is moving toward a code. Yet the timing of a call surprised the industry.
The CRTC just wrapped up a government-mandated public inquiry into whether telecom providers use aggressive or misleading sales practices. At the October hearing, an internet code was discussed as a potential solution. Many internet-related complaints stemmed from the point of sale, where numerous customers reported a mismatch between what they thought they agreed to buy and the actual price or service they received.
Despite the overlap between the two files, the CRTC said the two proceedings are distinct. It called for public comments on whether an internet code is needed, what should be in it and how it will be implemented, administered and enforced.
“While internet services play an important role in the everyday lives of Canadians, the number of complaints has been trending up and we are of the view that a code for these services may be needed,” CRTC chair Ian Scott said in a statement.
The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), the watchdog that consumers turn to as a last resort, reported a 38-per-cent increase in complaints about internet services in its 2016-17 report.
The code will not address prices, competition, wholesale issues, advertised broadband speeds, internet traffic management, privacy or content on the internet.
The CRTC recommended the new rules only apply to incumbent cable and phone providers such as Rogers, Shaw, Vidéotron, Telus, BCE Inc. and SaskTel. These players serve 87 per cent of the market. Smaller providers such as TekSavvy (there are 550 such resellers across Canada) would not be subject to the code.