UPDATE 1-Ottawa presses Telus, BCE to change pricing policy
OTTAWA, July 9 (Reuters) - Canada's industry minister said on Wednesday he will demand explanations from the wireless units of BCE (BCE.TO) and Telus (T.TO), the country's top two phone companies, for their decision to start charging clients for incoming text messages.
"I believe this was an ill-thought-out decision," Jim Prentice said in a statement, adding it is his duty to protect consumers' interests.
Bell Mobility, a unit of BCE, and Telus both said this week they will introduce a 15 Canadian cent charge on certain mobile phone customers for text messages they now receive free.
Bell is scheduled to start charging for the service Aug. 8 while Telus will do so Aug. 24.
The move has caused an outcry among clients.
Prentice said he has sent letters to the chief executives of Bell Mobility and Telus asking them to meet with him before Aug. 8, 2008 "with a view to finding a solution that provides the best service to consumers at the best price".
Prentice said he was particularly concerned that users could be charged for unsolicited, unwanted, or spam text messages.
"While I have no desire to interfere with the day-to-day business decisions of two private companies, I do have a duty as minister of industry, when necessary, to protect the interests of the consuming public," he said. ($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Peter Galloway)
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