Telecoms urge watchdog to scrap proposed caps on data usage

Two of the country’s largest telecom companies have some advice for Canada’s telecommunications regulator as it considers imposing new rules for cellphone contracts: scrap the $50 cap.

GATINEAU, Que. — Two of the country’s largest telecom companies have some advice for Canada’s telecommunications regulator as it considers imposing new rules for cellphone contracts: scrap the $50 cap.

A $50 spending limit on extra wireless data charges is one of several ideas on the table as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission holds hearings on a proposed new wireless code.

But executives from Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. say a spending cap would be a bad idea.

“That’s very disruptive to customers,” Rogers’ regulatory chief Ken Engelhart said Tuesday. “It’s very disruptive to be cut off.”

Under the CRTC’s draft code, wireless companies would have to suspend some services when a customer reaches either $50 in additional charges over and above what they pay for their monthly plan — though roaming fees, for example — or an amount each consumer would set.

Earlier Tuesday, Telus told the commission it already caps charges incurred outside Canada at $200, according to the Financial Post.

There are better ways to warm customers about their data usage, such as alerts sent to a handheld device, Rogers executives said.

“Even with these precautions, Rogers recognizes that some customers remain concerned about data services,” said Raj Doshi, the company’s head of products.

“Unlike voice and text messaging, data usage is more passive and it can be difficult for a customer to understand just how much of their allowance they have used.

“This is why Rogers supports requiring near-real-time alerts advising customers when they are approaching the limits of their data allowances, both domestically and abroad.

“These alerts address a real need by consumers and will help them avoid bill surprise from data services, currently the biggest source of unanticipated charges.”

Alerts for voice and text services aren’t worth the expense since they are rarely the source of surprise charges, Doshi said.

But alerts only go so far, Engelhart added.

“No matter how much you warn people, 50, 60, 75 per cent will ignore you.”

The telecom regulator is holding a week of hearings in Gatineau, Que., as it aims to set national standards for the content and clarity of cellphone contracts.

Much of the testimony so far has focused on the length of cellphone contracts, locked devices and roaming and cancellation fees.

On the second day of the hearings, the telecom regulator heard from Telus, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, and academics.

One of the academics suggested the issues that have come up at the hearing suggest there’s a lack of competition in the marketplace.

Wireless contracts written in clear language would be a start, but more needs to be done, said Catherine Middleton, the Canada Research Chair in Communication Technologies in the Information Society at Ryerson University in Toronto.

“Action is needed beyond informing consumers of the terms of their contracts,” Middleton said.

The CRTC has suggested companies would need to comply with a new wireless code within six months of it coming into force.

But Rogers urged the regulator to roll out its wireless code in stages. While some of the proposed changes can be made swiftly, the company said, others could take as long as a year and a half.

“There is no reason why at least some of the recommendations could not be implemented in the short term,” Engelhart said.

“Those changes requiring more significant work can then be allotted additional time.”

Just Posted

Springbrook Skate Park gets financial boost

Province approves $125,000 grant for proposed skate park

ReThink Red Deer gets thumbs up from city on pollinator barn structure

Group is hoping to get a $40,000 building grant

Driver who backed into Red Deer pizzeria sentenced

David Andrew Amstutz sentenced for failing to remain at the crash scene

Team Alberta athletes arrive in Red Deer on Saturday for pre-games orientation

Excitement is building with less than a month to go, says Team Alberta spokesperson

UPDATED: STARS Lottery is back

Lacombe STARS patient tells his story

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Netflix rejects request to remove Lac-Megantic images from ‘Bird Box’

At least two shows on Netflix’s Canadian platform briefly use actual footage of the 2013 tragedy

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Most Read