Telecom Commission Letter addressed to the Distribution list and the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services


Ottawa, 23 December 2019

Our file: 1011-NOC2019-0057

BY EMAIL

To: Distribution list; Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services

Subject:  Review of mobile wireless services, Telecom Notice of Consultation 2019-57 – Requests for information

Dear Madams, Sirs:

On 28 February 2019, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission published Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-57 (NoC 2019-57) initiating a review of mobile wireless services. Subsequently, the Commission has issued requests for information (RFIs) as part of the proceeding initiated by NoC 2019-57 whereby it asked parties to provide data on a number of topics relevant to the issues under consideration, including whether it would be appropriate for the Commission to mandate the provision of low-cost wireless plans. Footnote1

Commission staff considers that additional information on occasional-use or emergency-use wireless plans would ensure a more complete record. In particular, Commission staff is seeking information regarding low-cost mobile wireless plans with lower-usage offering primarily voice services that might be used by individuals who: do not want or need a more full-featured mobile wireless plan; or do not plan to use the mobile device frequently; or maintain a mobile device primarily for emergencies (e.g., an example of such a plan currently available in Canada is as follows: 10 minutes or less of calling and unlimited text messages within Canada, with no data, for $5 per billing cycle). These additional RFIs are provided in the Appendix to this letter.

Commission staff is also addressing RFI questions specifically to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), in order to obtain comments on how the CCTS would be impacted in the event the Commission were to establish conditions for the offering and provision of low-cost wireless plans (potentially including establishing rates or rate ceilings), such as occasional-use, or emergency-use plans. Commission staff is particularly interested in how this would impact the CCTS’s mandate and the CCTS’s role in administering consumer codes such as the Wireless Code.

The parties identified in each set of questions in the attachment are to file responses to questions 1 to 6 and question 11 by 15 January 2020. If a party is unable to provide the requested information for any questions identified in the attachments, the company is to provide a detailed justification as to why.

We expect issues related to questions 7 to 10 to be explored in greater detail during the public hearing. Accordingly, any party that is appearing at the hearing may choose not to submit written responses to those questions at this time, and may instead cometo answer those questions at the hearing. Parties electing to do so should indicate this in their responses to the present letter.

As set out in section 39 of the Telecommunications Act and in Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-961, Procedures for filing confidential information and requesting its disclosure in Commission proceedings, persons may designate certain information as confidential. A person designating information as confidential must provide a detailed explanation on why the designated information is confidential and why its disclosure would not be in the public interest, including why the specific direct harm that would be likely to result from the disclosure would outweigh the public interest in disclosure. Furthermore, a person designating information as confidential must either file an abridged version of the document omitting only the information designated as confidential or provide reasons why an abridged version cannot be filed.

Parties are reminded that, if a document is to be filed or served by a specific date, the document must be actually received, not merely sent, by that date.

With respect to the quality of the information submitted, all parties are expected to provide accurate information on the record of this proceeding. As such, if any party becomes aware of any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in the information it provided in the course of this proceeding, the party is expected to file a revised version of the information in a timely manner.

If you have any questions with regards to this letter, please contact Bradley Gaudet at bradley.gaudet@crtc.gc.ca.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by 

Philippe Kent
Director, Policy  
Telecommunications Sector                               

Original signed by 

Nanao Kachi
Director, Social and Consumer Policy
Consumer, Research and Communications

c.c.: Bradley Gaudet, CRTC, 873-353-4709, bradley.gaudet@crtc.gc.ca

Attachment

Distribution List

Ageing, Communication, Technologies (ACT), kim.sawchuk@concordia.ca;
Bell Mobility Inc., bell.regulatory@bell.ca;
Bragg Communications Incorporated, regulatory.matters@corp.eastlink.ca;
Canadian Cable Systems Alliance Inc., cedwards@ccsa.cable.ca;
Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic and OpenMedia, tisrael@cippic.ca;
Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc., regulatory@cnoc.ca;
Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, esmith@cwta.ca;
Coalition for Cheaper Wireless Service (CCWS), jlawford@piac.ca;
Cogeco Communications Inc., telecom.regulatory@cogeco.com;
Competition Bureau, matthew.boswell@canada.ca; laura.sonley@canada.ca;
Computer & Communications Industry Association, jhowes@ccianet.org;
Connex Global Communications Inc., info@gophonebox.com;
Conseil provincial du secteur des communications du Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique – nblais@scfp.ca, mlorch@scfp.ca;
Data On Tap Inc., regulatory@dotmobile.app;
Forum for Research and Policy in Communications, execdir@frpc.net;
Ice Wireless Inc., regulatory@iristel.com;
Independent Telecommunications Providers Association, jonathan.holmes@itpa.ca;
Internet Society Canada Chapter, tim@tmdenton.com;
Little House Technologies Incorporated, garrett@littlehousetechnologies.com;
Manitoba Coalition, kadil@legalaid.mb.ca;
Maple Communications Group Inc., regulatory@maplecomm.ca;
Province of British Columbia, roman.mateyko@gov.bc.ca;
Rogers Communications Canada Inc., rwi_gr@rci.rogers.com;
Saskatchewan Telecommunications, document.control@sasktel.com;
Shaw Telecom Inc., regulatory@sjrb.ca;
SSi Micro Ltd., regulatory@ssimicro.com;
Star Solutions International Inc., michael.bond@starsolutions.com;
Tbaytel, rob.olenick@tbaytel.com;
TELUS Communications Inc., regulatory.affairs@telus.com;
TekSavvy Solutions Inc., akaplanmyrth@teksavvy.ca;
Tucows Inc., enoss@tucows.com;
Union des consommateurs, abeaulieu-laporte@uniondesconsommateurs.ca;
Videotron Ltd., regaffairs@quebecor.com;
Xplornet Communications Inc., xplornet.legal@corp.xplornet.com


Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services,
howard.maker@ccts-cprst.ca; mauricio.perez@ccts-cprst.ca; josee.thibault@ccts-cprst.ca;

Appendix

Issues related to occasional-use or emergency-use wireless plans

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre-National Pensioners Federation (PIAC-NPF) filed a Part 1 application Footnote2 on 13 April 2018 in which it requested that the Commission issue a direction to the national wireless carriers to make “occasional-use retail wireless plans” broadly available to consumers. PIAC-NPF submitted that these plans would serve low-volume users with variable demand. Footnote3 In a letter dated 10 May 2018, the Commission determined that consideration of the application would be suspended until a later date.

During the current mobile-wireless proceeding, PIAC-NPF did not explicitly propose that the Commission consider requiring the offering of occasional-use plans. Furthermore, PIAC-NPF’s Part 1 application remains suspended.

However, certain interveners argued that some consumers may keep a mobile device to be used rarely, for instance in emergencies only, and seek to pay a minimal amount to do so. For example:

Commission staff notes that $5.00 plans with the following attributes are already being provided in the marketplace: Footnote4

Commission staff also notes that $15.00 plans with the following attributes are already being provided in the marketplace:

Questions to WSPs (responses to be filed by 15 January 2020):

  1. If a customer asks about low-cost occasional-use or emergency-use plans, which plan(s) out of those that you (or your affiliates) currently offer (including all flanker brands operated by your company) would you recommend to them and why? For each of these plans, explain:
    1. whether the plan is available regionally, or nationally;
    2. any limits on the availability of such plans;
    3. whether any of these plans are available as part of a bundle;
    4. the attributes of the plans (e.g. whether postpaid or prepaid; if prepaid, whether available on a pay-as-you-go basis; the services included under the key contract terms and conditions; any limits on the use of those services that could trigger overage charges or additional fees; the amount at which such overages or additional fees are charged);
    5. whether you have made changes to any qualifying plans in the last two years (i.e., 2018 or 2019) and if so, what the changes are and why they were made; and
    6. whether you have discontinued the offer or provision of any qualifying plans in the last two years and, if so, when and why.
  2. In the event one or more of the brands operated by your company or an affiliate does not offer a low-cost occasional-use or emergency-use plan, do the relevant customer service representatives refer customers to the brands that do?
  3. How are you and/or any relevant affiliate currently promoting these plans? Provide links to where these plans appear on your website, where applicable. Provide copies of other promotional material not available on your website, where applicable.
  4. Provide any information in your possession indicating the existence and/or levels of demand for these plans. Provide an attestation as to whether your company tracks requests for such plans and, if so, provide the attested tracking information.

Questions to other parties (responses to be filed by 15 January 2020):

  1. In your view, are these plans easily available to the consumers likely to benefit from them? Are they are being sufficiently promoted?
  2. Provide any information in your possession indicating the existence and/or levels of demand for these plans (e.g. surveys, testimonials).

Questions to Distribution List (responses may be filed by 15 January, but may also be given as part of public hearing):

  1. To what extent are consumers’ needs for occasional-use or emergency-use wireless plans being met by current WSP offerings? If needs are not being met, please elaborate and explain if it would be appropriate for the Commission to make one or more determinations under section 34 of the Telecommunications Act in order to re-assert powers under sections 25 and 27(1) to ensure their needs will be met.
  2. Should the Commission establish conditions for the offering and provision of low-cost occasional-use or emergency-use mobile wireless plans (potentially including establishing attributes, rates or rate ceilings)? If so:
    1. provide supporting rationale;
    2. explain how the Commission should impose those conditions;
    3. explain whether a plan with the attributes noted in the $5.00 plan described above would be appropriate. If any would not be appropriate, explain why and propose a more appropriate attribute; and
    4. explain whether a plan with the attributes noted in the $15.00 plan described above would be appropriate. If any would not be appropriate, explain why and propose a more appropriate attribute.
  3. Is there evidence that mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are providing low-cost occasional-use or emergency-use wireless plans in Canadian or international markets?
  4. Is there evidence that MVNOs would provide low-cost occasional-use or emergency-use wireless plans in Canada, if given the opportunity? How would those plans compare to the $5 and $15 plans noted above that are currently being offered in the marketplace?

Issues related to the CCTS

The Commission approved its structure and mandate of the CCTS on 20 December 2007, Footnote5 in response to an Order requiring the CRTC to report to the Governor in Council on consumer complaints, Footnote6 which stated that the telecommunications consumer body should be an integral component of a deregulated telecommunications market.

Questions to Distribution List and CCTS (responses to be filed by 15 January 2020):

  1. If the Commission were to mandate the provision of low-cost wireless plans with defined attributes and either rate regulate such services or subject them to a price ceiling, explain how this would impact:
    1. the CCTS’s complaint resolution processes, including assessing which complaints are in scope and redirecting out of scope complaints;
    2. the CCTS’s ability to track and report on complaints and trends related to the entire retail mobile wireless industry;
    3. the goal of consumers having a “one-stop shop” for complaints;
    4. access to CCTS’s services for customers with retail mobile wireless services purchased on a standalone basis or as part of a bundle with non-rate regulated services;
    5. the CCTS’s administration of the Wireless Code; and
    6. any other operational impacts on the CCTS.
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