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 of charge.

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.

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