Addressing the Digital Divide
PILC participated in the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) review of the mobile wireless telecommunications market on behalf of the Consumers’ Association of Canada (Manitoba Branch), Harvest Manitoba, and the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg.
Informed by extensive consumer engagement, PILC highlighted the presence and impacts of systemic barriers in the marketplace, including barriers to access for marginalized consumers and barriers to entry for resale-based service providers. PILC argued that these lead to heightened social and economic exclusion for already vulnerable consumers and undermine the prospects of a more competitive retail market in which prices are kept low.
Relying on these submissions, the CRTC recognized the disadvantages imposed by high prices on consumers with limited income. In response and closely reflecting PILC’s clients’ recommendations, it mandated the provision of low-cost wireless plans to improve access for certain vulnerable consumers.
However, more work is needed – instead of addressing barriers to entry for wireless re-sellers, the CRTC chose to support the growth of existing service providers, dismissing calls for more decisive action to address the market’s persistent lack of competition.