CRTC moves to establish internet code of conduct
Canada’s telecommunications regulator may slap more rules on large internet service providers in the face of rising complaints about their services.
On Friday, the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission launched a proceeding to establish a mandatory code of conduct for internet service providers in order to address problems of contract clarity, bill shock and barriers to switching service providers.
Codes for wireless and television services were introduced in 2013 and 2017, respectively.
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 complaints stemmed from the point of sale, where clients 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 chairman 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 if they can’t resolve problems with their provider, reported a 38-per-cent increase in complaints about internet services in its 2016-17 annual report.
The CRTC’S suggestions for the code included requiring door-todoor salespeople to clarify timelimited discounts, demanding service providers notify customers when they’ve used their monthly data allotment, and insisting upon trial periods of up to 30 days where a customer can cancel free ofcharge.
The CRTC recommended the new rules only apply to incumbent cable and telephone providers such as Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc., Videotron Inc., Telus Corp, BCE Inc. and Sasktel.