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Independent Cell Providers Resign from Canadian Wireless Telecom Association

cwta_logoCanada’s three major independent wireless companies have resigned from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association after claiming the group maintained a consistent bias in favor of the three largest carriers in the country.

Wind Mobile Canada, Public Mobile, and Mobilicity announced their departure in a joint press release.

“From this point, the CWTA does not, and cannot claim to speak on behalf of the Canadian mobile wireless sector,” said the news release.

“It has been evident for quite some time that, rather than being a true industry association which represents the views of all players regardless of size, the CWTA has instead largely been an advocate for Rogers, Telus, and Bell, and often directly contrary to the interests of new entrant wireless carriers,” said Bob Boron, general counsel and senior vice president of legal & regulatory affairs for Public Mobile.

public mobile“We have spent the better part of three years repeatedly voicing our opposition to the CWTA on a wide range of matters to the point of issuing a press release in January 2011 that publicly expressed our dissent on the CWTA’s position on wireless consumer protection,” added Gary Wong, director of legal affairs for Mobilicity. “There seems to be a blatant disregard of the new entrants in favor of acting in the best interests of the big three carriers, and it is unacceptable.”

The carriers suggest WCTA officials lured them into the trade association to bolster claims the group represents the collective interests of Canadian mobile providers. Once enrolled as members, the independents claim their concerns were ignored on a variety of issues.

“When we first approached the CWTA, we were promised clear and fair representation on issues of true industry alignment. But despite making our objections and concerns abundantly clear on numerous occasions, the CWTA has repeatedly failed to honor this promise, leaving us no alternative but to withdraw,” said Simon Lockie, chief regulatory officer at Wind Mobile.

Among the major points of contention:

  • The independents favor transparency on mobile phone bills, with better disclosure of which services are optional or mandatory, the exact pricing of those services, contract termination fees and penalties. The three major carriers oppose anything beyond self-regulation;
  • The CWTA argues Canadians have a highly competitive wireless marketplace with rates to match. The independent providers strongly disagree, claiming Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world for cell service;
  • The CWTA favors and supports three-year contracts for cell phone service, the independent providers do not.

“The many contributions of Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile will certainly be missed, and CWTA would welcome their return to the association in the future,” a CWTA official said in a written statement.

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