By: Lauren Mansfield

\The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission has invited Canadians to join an online discussion about a new wireless code that will be used to govern wireless telecomm carriers and services throughout the country. The forum is running in conjunction with a public hearing that will take place in Gatineau, Quebec from February 11-15. However, the new code has already received criticism for falling short of some of the public’s main concerns.

The proposed new wireless code was developed in response to customer complaints, including confusing contracts, limited “unlimited” contracts and loan shark-like cancellation fees. These have become common in a hegemonic Canadian market dominated by only a few major carriers.

Canadians have also dealt with rising prices; according to a study done by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2009 that examined comparable cell phone packages worldwide, Canada has the third highest rates in the developed world.

In the past week, the topic that has received the most attention on the online forums has been the issue of three-year contracts. They are uncommon globally — in most countries two years is the maximum term allowed. Although shorter, one-year contracts are available in Canada they are generally accompanied by hefty initial fees.

The most ‘liked’ comment on the online discussion, posted by “scottk04”, sums up the problem: “The ‘three year standard’ is ridiculous and costs Canadians hundreds of dollars in the event a device is damaged. Insurance for accidental damage is sky high with large deductibles. Three years is a long time in the current technology industry and only providing Canadians with this option is unjust.” Many who participated in the forum agree that this is the key problem plaguing the industry in Canada; they believe it should be the most fundamental policy brought in by the code, but at the present time it is not included.

The CRTC declined to comment in a call with the newspaper due to the fact that the creation of the code is still in progress. It is unclear whether the the legislation will help to open up the market in Canada or what its effects will be. The results will depend upon what developments are made between the first draft and the finalized document. However, the proposed code does signify progress in the regulation of mobile telecom carriers in Canada. Ideally, this is the first step of renewal in a system that has left many consumers frustrated.

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