Cellphone costs and confusion: Can B.C. do anything to help?
If you’re incensed by cellphone plans and confusing contracts, the B.C. government is hoping you’ll grab your smartphone and provide feedback.
A public questionnaire launched Wednesday aims to document the pains and frustrations felt by British Columbians when it comes to the hand held devices.
Running until July 5, the survey can be accessed online.
Once the feedback is collected and compiled into a report, it’s unclear what effect it will actually have. The federal government regulates telecommunications – while the province is responsible for consumer protections.
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says he thinks the biggest impact will be in terms of transparency including plainer language and the true nature of the costs. He said legislation is in place in Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland and he’s hopeful the information gathered in B.C. will pressure Ottawa to make other kinds of changes.
“We’d all like cheaper cellphone bills,” said Farnworth at a media event in Victoria. But that’s not up to the province.
BC Liberal Jobs, Trades and Technology Critic Jas Johal doesn’t think it’s quite so simple, and called the survey a disappointment. Johal said the answer to high data rates is more competition.
“In my personal opinion, they’re chasing headlines, nothing more, nothing less,” added Johal.
Johal said when Freedom Mobile offered a $50 rate plan, which included 10 gigs of data a month, he called his provider over several months. Now, he pays $80 per month for 10 gigs of data, instead of three gigs.
Johal also pointed out it’s easier to offer cheaper rates when the population is dense. In Canada, with people spread out over a large mass of land, pressuring companies to build necessary infrastructure is again, a federal responsibility.
According to the CRTC’s "Communications Monitoring Report 2018," in 2017 mobile companies brought in revenues of $24.5 billion dollars from an estimated 31.7 million cellphone users.
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