Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry reaffirms that competitiveness is central to a vibrant telecommunications sector
OTTAWA, ON, March 3, 2022 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, issued the following statement on affordability and competition in Canada's telecommunications sector:
"Access to affordable and reliable Internet and wireless services is critical in today's society and economy. That's why our government is making every effort to ensure that telecommunications services are reliable, innovative, competitive and—most crucially—affordable.
"Affordability and competition have been central to all our work in the telecommunications sector. We have encouraged greater competition, which has led to small regional players growing and challenging larger ones. Roaming on the big three networks has been regulated. We have fulfilled our commitment to track and reduce cellphone prices across a number of mid-range data plans and to reduce the costs by 25% within two years. We have also invested an historic $7.2 billion through the Universal Broadband Fund and other programs to make high-speed Internet available to all Canadians, no matter where they live. In addition, through the Connecting Families Initiative, we have helped tens of thousands of low-income Canadian families access the Internet. As announced last August, this initiative will now extend to low-income seniors as well.
"These programs, along with other actions lke issuing binding policy direction to the CRTC to put consumers first, have laid the important groundwork needed to address affordability and competition in the sector. But there is more to do as affordability and cost pressures remain top of mind for Canadians, especially in the telecommunications sector.
"Within this context, many Canadians have expressed serious concerns regarding consolidation in the telecommunications sector, specifically regarding the proposed acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc. by Rogers Communications Inc. As I have noted before, I share these concerns.
"This proposal is currently under review by three separate regulators, with decisions expected in due course. As Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the spectrum regulator, I am strongly committed to our policies to promote competition and ensure cell phone affordability for Canadians. The wholesale transfer of Shaw's wireless licences to Rogers is fundamentally incompatible with our government's policies for spectrum and mobile service competition, and I will simply not permit it.
"I will continue to use all the tools at my disposal to fight for more choices for consumers and to make life more affordable for Canadians. This includes the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, where new measures have been proposed to support alternative providers and to encourage competition.
"Competition is a driving force behind innovation and efficiency in our economy. Last month, I announced that a review of the Competition Act is under way, where issues such as wage fixing, misleading pricing schemes and penalty levels, among others, will be studied with the objective of promoting competition throughout the economy.
"Our government will continue to make real and positive impacts on the day-to-day lives of Canadians. This has been a central commitment of our government since day one and it is my commitment as Minister. I will continue to fight each and every day to make life more affordable for all Canadians."
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SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada