Finger pointing in Canada as lobby influence calculated

Finger pointing in Canada as lobby influence calculated


TekSavvy, a Canadian service provider that promotes an anti-monopoly ethos has highlighted the lengths telcos are going to, to influence government policy.

For a post on the company's Choice Words blog, VP of insight and engagement, Peter Nowak used public data to calculate that Canada's telcos lobbied the country's government on 577 occasions over 12 months.

Nowak wrote: "At the same time as they are exerting oligopoly power over consumer prices, unnecessarily collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies and laying off people by the hundreds, they are also running the table when it comes to lobbying elected officials and government bureaucrats."

TekSavvy broke down the data by service provider, as below:

Shaw/Corus: 152

Rogers: 124

Telus: 81

Quebecor/Videotron: 68

BCE/Northwestel: 66

Cogeco: 59

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association: 27

On the "small telco" and consumer advocacy front, it counted its own activities alongside two others.

TekSavvy: 20

Open Media: 10

Canadian Network Operators Consortium: 5


The publicly available information shows that consultants were often used by big telco with Earnscliffe Strategy Group, Rubicon Strategy and Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP just some of those frequently listed on the register.

In terms of what the service providers and associations wanted to influence, everything from pricing to broadcasting policy is listed.

Teksavvy maintained this activity – after big companies, including telcos, accessed government subsidies during the Covid pandemic – should "warrant a public rebuke from government".

On the price of services, February 2020 data calculated by confirmed Canada is one of the most expensive countries in the world for mobile data, with 1GB costing an average of US$12.55. It ranked 209 out of 228 countries.

This study assessed 5,554 mobile plans between 3 February and 25 February 2020. The average cost of one gigabyte (1GB) was calculated and compared to form a worldwide mobile data pricing league table.

A separate July 2020 study published by Visual Capitalist reported a similar trend, that it said was directly attributable to "high market concentration".

"The line between lobbying imbalance and regulatory capture, where policy makers effectively allow big companies to call their own shots, is a thin one," Nowak wrote.

He concluded: "With internet bills rising, regulators continuing to delay key rulings despite more than 200,000 letters from private citizens urging the opposite sent through ongoing campaigns such as Pay Less to Connect, and Big Telecom acting with impunity when it comes to government subsidies and layoffs, it’s increasingly looking like the line no longer exists."


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