How a Canadian TCO with 1 million members and a $40 million annual budget can be formed
WHAT IS THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONSUMER ORGANIZATION (TCO)?
The Telecommunications Consumer Organization (TCO) is a proposed federally chartered, non-profit organization designed to represent and educate consumers on telecommunications industry issues (broadcasting, cable TV, telephone and Internet). The TCO will advocate for fair service from telecommunication companies before the industry regulators, the government and the courts. It will also educate telecom consumers on issues such as services, charges and fees.
The TCO proposal is based upon Citizen Utility Boards (CUBs) which already exist in four states in the U.S. In these states, all of the utilities are required to enclose a pamphlet in their billing envelopes inviting people to join the CUB. About five percent of consumers usually join the CUB at a $40 annual membership fee. CUBs are independent, broad-based watchdog groups that are run democratically by their members and represent consumers' interests in the marketplace. For example, in Illinois the CUB has 150,000 members, a $1.5 million annual budget, and has saved consumers about $9 billion since 1983 by opposing rate hikes by utilities.
According to a
Canadians support the creation of the TCO using the
while only 27% oppose it.
In addition, a
made up of 31 citizen
groups with a total membership of 3.5 million
Canadians supports the
creation of the TCO.
THE TCO BE SET UP AND HOW WILL IT WORK?
Alternatively, telecommunication companies could volunteer to enclose the pamphlet, and as long as enough large companies volunteered enough individual investors would receive the pamphlet to make the TCO viable.
The pamphlet will describe
and invite telecommunication consumers to join at a
($40 -- with a lower fee for people with low
government can either lend or grant to the TCO the
funds needed to
print the first pamphlet. After the first
pamphlet, however, the
will pay all the costs of the pamphlet. As a
result, the TCO can
set up at little or no cost to government or the
If only five percent of telecommunication customers join the TCO, it will have one million members and a $40 million annual budget. With these resources and large membership base, the TCO will be able to represent and provide services to telecom customers across Canada.
The TCO will be a
organization, controlled by its
members through the election of regional
delegates and the TCO's board of directors. The
board will hire
professional staff and determine the group's policies.
THE TCO DO?
The TCO will also hire
experts, organizers and lawyers
to represent consumers.
TCO NEEDED IN CANADA?
The TCO will provide key
competition in the marketplace and better service for
The tens of millions
of dollars telecommunications companies use to
advocate their interests
each year (through advertising, lobbying and political
all paid for by telecommunications consumers.
The TCO will act
umbrella group to bring together the resources of
existing consumer groups
an organized voice for their interests on