Tag Archives: crtc

Dissolving the telecoms regulator is a terrible idea: Google Voice, AT&T, and telecommunications regulation

Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T in the U.S., stirring up rumors that AT&T was the one behind Apple rejecting Google Voice. How could AT&T not object? AT&T clings to the old business of charging for voice calls in minutes. It takes not much more than 10 kilobits per second of data to handle voice. In a world of megabit per-second connections, that’s nothing???hence Google’s proposal to offer voice calls for no cost and heap on features galore.

What this episode really uncovers is that AT&T is dying. AT&T is dragging down the rest of us by overcharging us for voice calls and stifling innovation in a mobile data market critical to the U.S. economy.

This article is bleak about telecommunications competition in the US, but in Canada, the situation is even worse. We have fewer choices, pay more, and have fewer features.

This article by Andy Kessler in the Wall Street Journal points out that the FCC is taking a closer look at competition and regulation in the American wireless market as a result of Google Voice being rejected as an iPhone apps. In the absence of good regulatory oversight, this is a market in which incumbents like AT&T have had the power to keep prices high and limit innovation.

At the same time, in Canada, the CRTC has held hearings on network neutrality and has released a number of decisions on internet service and related issues. Despite this activity — or perhaps as a result of what much of the community perceives as the CRTC’s lack of understanding of the wireless and internet markets for most Canadians — there is widespread frustration with the CRTC.

This week, that frustration took form as a petition calling for the CRTC to be dissolved, initiated by an Ottawa software developer. The petition has almost 1500 signatures as of this writing.

Scrapping the CRTC is a terrible idea — almost absurd, really. The telecommunications and broadcasting markets need to be regulated, and the CRTC is the organization we have to do it in Canada. It may need reform, or more technological expertise, but the idea of dissolving it is counterproductive and utterly without merit.

I will not be signing the petition. I will be watching it, however, and participating where I can in the conversations it sparks on Twitter and on Facebook.


CRTC extends exemption for new media and calls for a national digital strategy

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) today released a very important decision reviewing their original New Media decision of 1999. In the 2009 review of that decision, the CRTC has essentially extended their policy of not regulating new media.

OTTAWA-GATINEAU —The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that, after a careful examination and a full process, it will maintain its approach for broadcasting content distributed over the Internet and through mobile devices. The Commission will continue to exempt new media broadcasting services from its regulation and monitor trends as they evolve.

“While broadcasting in new media is growing in importance, we do not believe that regulatory intervention is necessary at this time,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “We found that the Internet and mobile services are acting in a complementary fashion to the traditional broadcasting system. Any intervention on our part would only get in the way of innovation.”


Read the full release and decision for details. Basically, the Commission was not convinced in the hearing process that regulation was needed in this sector. But there will be some changes. For one, it will be five years, not another 10, before they review this again. And they are asking the Federal Court of Appeal to clarify whether internet service providers are subject to the Broadcasting Act if they provide access to traditional broadcasting content.

But most intriguing is the CRTC’s endorsement of the National Film Board’s call for a national digital strategy, as some countries already have in place. New media itself has evolved tremendously since the CRTC first considered it 10 years ago, and is likely to change even more dramatically before they reconsider this decision in 2014. Let’s make sure there is a national policy in place before then to ensure a safe market for innovative media developers.

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