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Internet Code of Conduct takes effect in January 2020

Starting in January of next year, major internet service providers (ISPs) will have to abide by a code that requires them to provide “easy-to-understand” contracts, as well as a “critical information summary” potential customers should be provided when making an offer of internet service.

The rules will apply only to the 10 largest ISPs in the country, who together control 87 per cent of the market. They are:
• Bell Canada
• Rogers Communications
• Cogeco
• SaskTel
• Videotron
• Eastlink
• Shaw Telecom
• Xplornet
• Northwestel

ISPs will also have to alert customers when their usage reaches 75 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent of their monthly usage limit.

According to reports, the new rules as accompaniment to earlier codes of conduct for wireless and TV providers. These rules took shape following public consultations held by CRTC where it became evident that there was an issue with unclear agreements, unanticipated price increases and inconsistencies between offers and eventual bills received by customers.

The new Internet Code is aimed at closing the gap and providing Canadians with protections for the Internet, wireless and TV services in their bundle.

The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), which handles complaints about internet service recorded a 56-per-cent increase in complaints about internet services in the second half of 2018.

The most common complaints being incorrect charge, non-disclosure of terms/misleading information about terms and intermittent/inadequate quality of service.

In a report issued in January, the CRTC found that “misleading or aggressive retail sales practices” are widespread in Canada’s internet services market.

However, some consumer advocates wonder if these measures go far enough given the industry’s reputation for aggressive tactics.

Are the penalties high enough to deter such practices going forward?

The CCTS has the authority to order providers to change or refund a bill, as well as penalize a telecom up to $5,000 per infraction. Customers can heave a sigh of relief knowing that if they have an issue with their internet provider, their issues will be taken more seriously. -CINEWS

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