A National Code for wireless services

When it comes to cell phone bills and wireless contracts we’ve all felt at one time or another like pulling our hair out.  

And what about the horror stories: someone takes an overseas vacation only to come home to a cell phone bill in the thousands due to roaming charges they weren’t expecting to pay.

Although it is the responsibility of each of us to know what we are agreeing to when we sign a wireless contract those contracts should be easy to understand, especially when it comes to the fees that can be charged for the services provided.

It is estimated that more than 27.4 million customers now subscribe to wireless services, and complaints about wireless have topped the list of grievances filed with Canada’s Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) for the past four years.  

That is why the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is currently reviewing the rules that determine how telecommunications companies operate in Canada.  

Last fall, the CRTC asked Canadians for their help in creating a national code for wireless services including cellphones and other personal mobile devices.

Canadians responded by submitting over 3,500 comments in writing and posting close to 600 comments on the online discussion. Among those comments Canadians asked for: a clearer understanding of their wireless services and fees; the ability to unlock cellphones on reasonable terms; the ability to set a cap on additional fees, such as those incurred from long-distance calls, usage of voice minutes, text messages, data usage and roaming; and online tools to monitor usage and any additional fees.

Taking these recommendations into consideration the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) put together a draft code for wireless services and is now asking Canadians once again to weigh in on the working document, which will lead to a wireless code that will enable Canadians to make informed decisions in a competitive marketplace.

Once finalized, the wireless code will be administered by the CCTS which will have the ability to force a carrier to stop certain practices; order them to provide consumers with explanations or apologies; or order them to provide compensation up to a maximum $5,000.

Canadians can join in the online discussion by going to the CRTC website at www.crtc.gc.ca to review the draft code and let the CRTC know if anything is missing. Canadians have until 5 p.m. (PST) on February 15, 2013.

In addition, for the first time in the history of the CRTC, Canadians will also be able to listen to a live audio feed of the public hearings and post comments as it unfolds. All comments posted on the website will be taken into consideration as the CRTC finalizes the wireless code. The public hearings take place February 11 to 15, 2013.

Most of us have come to rely on our personal wireless devices in just about every aspect of our lives and it’s even more important that the relationship between consumers and wireless providers is mutually beneficial to users and providers.

I encourage constituents to participate in these consultations. With your input we can insure that the CRTC develops an effective national code for wireless services to help consumers make informed choices. In other words, no more pulling your hair out in frustration, which is especially good news for those like me who have only a little hair to begin with.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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