When Canada's communications regulator announced that all service providers in the country must provide a basic and affordable cable package by March 1, the move was hailed as ushering in a "new era" for consumer choice.
Well, that plan turned into a raging dumpster fire.
After hundreds of complaints that the so-called "skinny" packages actually cost a hell of a lot more than the sticker price of around $25 CAD, Canada's few major telecom companies will testify at public hearings about basic internet packages that many Canadians have deemed, basically, utter bullshit.
The hearings will begin on September 7, and Rogers, Bell, Shaw, and the Quebec-based Videotron have been called upon to testify.
Despite the edict from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that every company must provide a basic cable package for "a single fee of no more than $25 per month," added fees bump that number much higher. Some frustrated Canadians have taken to calling the plans, flatly, a "ripoff."
One anonymous Bell employee stated that they believe Bell was attempting to make the packages appear "unbuyable"
Rogers charges $24.95 for its basic cable plan, the company's response to the CRTC states, but renting an HD box in Ontario costs another $12.95 per month, and each additional television outlet in the home is an extra $7.49 per month. There's also a one-time installation fee of $49.99.
As for Bell, the company states in its CRTC response that the basic Fibe TV package—which delivers content over the internet—is advertised as costing $24.95, but after all is said and done, customers can expect to pay between $59.95 and $99.95 every month. The company contends that customers who choose the basic package must also pay for hardware and an internet connection, hence the extra costs.
Complicating the whole issue is the fact that Bell was caught instructing sales staff not to promote the basic plans. One anonymous Bell employee interviewed by the CBC stated that they believe Bell was attempting to make the packages appear "unbuyable."
This makes for the second time this year that Bell, specifically, has pushed back against the CRTC. When the regulator announced that major Canadian telecoms would have to share their ultra-fast fiber internet infrastructure with smaller players, Bell appealed the ruling. This month, Bell's appeal was rejected.
It appears as though Canada's telecom oligopoly has been up to some serious shenanigans, and starting in September, they'll be made to answer for it.