Fact sheet: Cellular (Wireless) Telephone Services

Rates, Quality of Service and Business Practices

While the CRTC regulates several areas of the Canadian telecommunications industry, the degree of the regulation varies depending on the services being offered and the degree of competition. In the cellular (wireless) telephone services industry, the Commission continues to play a role in ensuring the confidentiality of customer information and ensuring that customers are not subject to undue preference or unjust discrimination. However, the CRTC does not regulate the rates, quality of service or business practices of cellular (wireless) service providers.

Cellular telephone subscribers who have complaints about their service should contact their provider directly. In a competitive telecommunications environment it is in the provider’s best interest to address the needs and concerns of its current and potential subscribers.

Industry Canada’s the Office of Consumer Affairs website has a section entitled Complaining Effectively. It gives the steps to follow when filing a complaint as well as contacts for the organizations, or local, provincial and federal offices that provide help to consumers.

System Access/911/Contribution Charges

The Commission does not approve or regulate the various charges or methods by which cellular service companies recover their costs. Customers should contact their provider if they have questions on the purpose and make-up of the costs being recovered by the system access charge.

The Commission also does not determine the method by which cellular service providers pass on other fees authorized by the Commission such as 9-1-1 and contribution charges.

Cellular companies obtain access to emergency 9-1-1 service through the telephone companies since 9-1-1 service is provided by municipalies in conjunction with the telephone companies. The Commission has determined that the costs incurred by municipalities and telephone companies are to be recovered from all telecommunications services users. It also decided that the wireless service companies would be charged on a per telephone number basis and devised a formula for determining the rates. The CRTC decision neither directed the cellular telephone companies to pass on this charge to their customers nor approved any new wireless 9-1-1 charge imposed by them. Any determination to do so is at the discretion of the cellular service provider.

In 2001, the CRTC introduced a revenue-based contribution regime to subsidize residential local telephone service in high-cost rural and remote areas of Canada. All telecommunications service providers, including cellular companies, contribute to this fund. Although the Commission did not provide directions to the cellular telephone companies in this regard, some service providers have chosen to create a separate charge and have applied it to various services, while others have included the cost of the contribution regime as part of their rates. Customers should contact their service provider if they have questions concerning how the costs of the contribution regime are applied to them.

Wireless Number Portability

Currently, Local Number Portability is available to customers of wireless service companies in Canada that have undertaken to comply with the requirements to become Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs).

In the February 2005 federal budget, the government identified wireless number portability as a priority item. Also, in April 2005, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) announced that Canada ‘s wireless carriers have agreed to implement number portability in Canada and have begun the planning efforts required to achieve this result.

In December 2005, the CRTC issued a decision requiring all Canadian wireless telephone companies to implement wireless number portability (WNP) by March 14, 2007, in most of Canada.

By March 14, 2007 Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless and the mobility division of TELUS Communications Inc. will be required to provide WNP to their customers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Québec. This means that customers in any of these provinces will be able to switch to any service provider in that province (wireline or wireless) and keep their phone number.

Throughout Canada, all wireless carriers will, by the same date, be required to release a phone number to another carrier (port-out customers) and by no later than September 12, 2007, to accept a phone number from another carrier (port-in customers).

Coverage Areas and Coverage Maps

The CRTC does not require cellular telephone companies to provide service in currently unserved areas and it does not maintain coverage maps. Information about products and services offered by various cellular telephone companies is available on the website of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association.

The CRTC also does not allocate blocks of frequencies for wireless services and it is not involved in the selection or approval of specific locations to erect communications towers. These matters are under the jurisdiction of Industry Canada. More information on spectrum allocation can be found at http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/insmt-gst.nsf/en/h_sf00000e.html .

Health and Safety Issues

For information on health and safety issues related to wireless communications, you can access the websites of Health Canada and of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association.

Date Modified: 2006-11-30


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