Jul. 11, 2022

Rogers network failure points to CRTC incompetence

The Rogers outage showed us some unacceptable weaknesses in our digital environment.

The Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission must be made an independent body reporting directly to parliament, not a lap dog of the minister of Canadian Heritage.

It must be law in Canada that every cell phone sold here will by default seek out an alternate carrier for 911 calls if the primary cell service provider is out of service for any reason. Existing cell phones should be provided with a free app to provide that service. Failing to provide emergency 911 cell call services for any reason is unacceptable.

No media company can be allowed to carry the backbone for banking ATMs and credit/debit payments. Our banking system cannot be dependent on a media company. Businesses and consumers cannot be blocked from making daily transactions because of a digital service glitch.

Our banking system, including ATMs and debit/credit card transactions, must be on a separate, impervious, fail-safe system independent of any telecommunications provider.

The proposed sale of Shaw to Rogers is not acceptable. We need increased competition in the telecommunication field, not less.

Telecommunication bundling advertisements should be subject to CRTC approval and providers required to use standardized language so consumers can accurately compare services and prices offered. The current jungle of bundling offers is incomprehensible.

Telecommunications providers must be prohibited from vending cell phones and tablets unless they disclose their acquisition cost, markup and interest charged. Telecommunication providers buy devices in bulk at a discount and do not divulge the markup or interest charged on the devices they sell. That violates consumer protection laws. Device sales allow the vendor to lock customers into a two-year (or more) contract which is not acceptable without full disclosure. 

There should be a separate market for unlocked cell phones and tablets.

No telecommunication provider can be allowed to serve more than 25 per cent of a market. That prevents providers from focusing on densely populated areas while ignoring smaller centres and rural areas.

Service providers must be required to share construction costs and access to cell towers in rural and remote areas. They are in business to provide customers with coast-to-coast services not just services in urban areas. Consumers should not have to travel through hours and miles of ‘dead space’ where cellular service is not available.

Cell service has effectively replaced landlines in many areas to the delight of media giants. That requires the cell service providers to expand their services to at least match the communications they replaced. 

Telecommunication providers must separate cellular/internet services from other services they provide such as cable TV and be restricted to not more than 25 per cent of any market to encourage competition in subsidiary services.

Finally, the government must be prohibited from subsidizing any portion of the media as a violation of our fundamental right to freedom of the press. Media organizations accepting subsidies from the government are no longer free or independent. The CRTC has failed us in allowing government subsidies to the print media which are controlled by the media giants.

EDITOR'S NOTE – And the heavily-subsidized CBC, of course.