New line of questioning for CRTC ... wireless pricing review?

klassb

Super Moderator
Hi everyone,

In case you didn't know, the CRTC recently issued a new round of questions in the (thought-to-be-closed) lower-cost data-only plans process. The number of questions, and their substance, is substantial. I think the biggest aspect of them is the invitation to discuss a review, within this existing proceeding, of the forbearance framework for retail wireless pricing. In other words, the CRTC may be ready to actually review its previous legal-fact-equals-empirical-fiction determinations that "market forces are sufficiently competitive to protect the interests of users", with its necessary corollary that rates will remain unregulated.

First off, just thought I'd draw your attention to these questions if you haven't already seen them. You can find the official documents here on the CRTC website, and I've posted them up on my blog in case you want to go straight to the English version (PDF).

Second, wondering about your thoughts? While the ability to comment is restricted to people who have already participated in this process, there may be some people here who did just that; I was retained as an expert by the Consumers' Association of Canada Manitoba Branch to write a report, and so will be having some input going forward.
 

El Quintron

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for keeping us updated on this, both here and on Twitter.

I'm more interested in the other end of the scale, are they interested in making 5gb+ plans generally available to the public, on mobile devices, or is this still a "whatever the market will bear type of situation?
 

klassb

Super Moderator
Thanks for keeping us updated on this, both here and on Twitter.

I'm more interested in the other end of the scale, are they interested in making 5gb+ plans generally available to the public, on mobile devices, or is this still a "whatever the market will bear type of situation?
No prob. WRT "non-lower income plans" you might want to have a quick read of the Competition Bureau's submission.

Specifically, paragraph 23-25 (long quote):

"LCDO Plans Need Not be Restricted to the Lower End of the Marketplace

23. The Bureau notes that not one of Canada’s national wireless service providers has proposed to offer an LCDO Plan with a capacity limit exceeding 500 megabytes. Notwithstanding whether this is an acceptable capacity limit for the lower end of the market, it is not obvious to the Bureau why LCDO Plans should not feature a variety of capacity limits, stretching into multiple gigabytes per month (e.g., a range of LCDO Plans at 1 gigabyte, 2 gigabytes, 5 gigabytes, etc.).

  1. In this industry, market power is not likely to be limited to customers who purchase only lower-capacity products. That is, even those who purchase high-capacity plans likely face at least somewhat higher prices than would be delivered in a competitive market. Therefore, if the CRTC wishes to address market power in this proceeding, it would be helpful to consider whether higher-capacity LCDO Plans would also be appropriate.
  2. It is important to recognize that combatting market power is not just about establishing low-end offers in a marketplace. Some consumers genuinely want to pay more to receive higher quality or, in this industry, higher capacity services. For these consumers, the establishment of low capacity plans will do nothing to enhance their position; they will remain captive to high prices, and some proportion of these consumers will continue to be unable to subscribe to their preferred plan."

In a nutshell, the new management at the Competition Bureau appears to be taking a bit more of a bold (and welcome, as far as I'm concerned) approach to the wireless market. They've been making piecemeal findings for years, and it looks like here, at least, they've taken a bigger picture view of the situation. Of course, could be a mea culpa for the approval of BCE-MTS, but that's a different story.
 
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