House of Commons zeroes in on false advertising of internet speeds and impact on rural Canada

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Tomorrow, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) met with representatives of the Telecommunications-Television Complaints Commission (CCTS) and OpenMedia to discuss new Proposed Bill C-288,

The bill seeks to amend the Telecommunications Act to require Canadian carriers to provide details about certain broadband services they provide in order to prevent false advertising.

As part of the enactment, the CRTC is also required to hold public hearings to inform its decisions on how carriers will meet this obligation.

According to CCTA national organization that helps customers resolve complaints related to retail Internet, wireless, TV and local phone services, quality of service characterizes the majority of complaints made by Internet customers.

“In these complaints, customers told us that they were not getting the speeds they thought they had contracted for, or that they did not understand that the speeds displayed on their plans were the maximum speeds that could be made available to them. ,” said CCTS assistant commissioner, Josie Thibault.

Furthermore, the CCTS revealed that large providers account for around 80 per cent of complaints.

“Bill C-288 is not a controversial piece of legislation; We can all agree that it helps to empower everyday people, support their right to high quality connectivity and protect them from shady business practices by big telcos – reforming the status quo that everyone in this room is talking about. will benefit the individual and Canadians at large said Howard Maker, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the CCTS.

A member of the committee reported that several telecommunications companies wrote to his office, saying the bill was “unnecessary” and “impractical”, adding that the wireless and internet codes allow them to provide information to customers in simple and easy-to-understand language. force to do. ,

But Bill C-288 shouldn’t cause any problems for telecommunications companies, which believe they’re not engaging in false advertising, said nonprofit Erin Knight. openmedia, “If, according to a telecommunications company, there is nothing wrong with their average network performance, then they really have nothing to fear from a bill that makes that network performance data transparently and publicly available.”

Also, the bill has nothing to do with wireless services, said another witness, rather it is about fixed networks. He added that the CRTC has clearly laid out prohibitions against misleading advertising of service quality levels in developments its 2019 internet codeAnd the bill would potentially reduce what could be seen as an error in developing Internet code.

Although the CRTC is required to participate in the CCTS, even the largest service providers are very sensitive to the number of publicly reported complaints. Therefore, the bill will further discourage those not solving the problems, the producer pointed out. And this would be a financial disincentive, as service providers are required to pay for every customer complaint that comes to the CCTS.

Furthermore, the witnesses argued that ensuring transparent and accurate information about broadband services is key to closing the digital divide in rural and remote Canada.

While high-speed Internet underperformance has been bothersome to many people and is still a major problem, for low-speed Internet subscribers, for example, receiving two megabits per second instead of the advertised 15 is debilitating, Knight noted. Said.

Technological differences and the weakness of investment incentives slow down plans offered to rural customers, said Reza Rajabiun, a competition policy and telecom strategy expert.

False advertising reduces investor take-up rates in fiber deployment projects in rural areas with low-speed services, Rajabiun explained, undermining the incentive to deliver high-quality networks. When investors are able to demonstrate the quality of their products, they receive the revenue they need to maintain and grow their business, especially when demand increases and the ability to deliver is constrained.

The witnesses also argued that the bill would strengthen the CRTC’s new policy direction to ensure competition and consumer rights, but said it “does not do enough in terms of enforcement, contractual accountability of suppliers, and treatment for those consumers.” who in the end don’t get what they are paying for.

Consumers who suspect they are not getting what they are paying for are advised by Witnesses to contact their service providers for troubleshooting policies and tools. If they are unable to solve it, they can Lodge a complaint with CCTS,

The CCTS will look at the difference between the cost of the advertised speed versus what the user is getting and require the service provider to compensate them for the difference. It can also provide additional compensation of up to C$5000 to consumers beyond the credit of the billed amount, Thibault said.

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