Post Tagged with: "broadband"

Montréal (Île des Sœurs) by JasonParis (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/a2nnAu

Ignore the Scare Tactics: The Real Future of Bell Investment in Fibre Networks

Bell’s defeat this week at the Federal Court of Appeal over its MobileTV service marked the second high profile regulatory loss in recent months for Canada’s largest communications company. Last month, the government rejected Bell’s cabinet appeal of a CRTC decision on broadband infrastructure. The CRTC ruling means that companies such as Bell will be required to share their fibre networks with other carriers on a wholesale basis.

Bell’s appeal (and accompanying lobbying effort) was premised on the notion that CRTC regulation would force the company to reconsider its fibre investment. Indeed, its cabinet appeal stated:

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June 22, 2016 4 comments News
Liberal MP Navdeep Bains (Mississauga--Brampton South) chats with Young Liberals of Canada Vice President Communications-elect Braeden Caley and youth delegates by Michael Ignatieff (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6jzCBK

Why Federal Leadership on Universal Broadband is a Need, Not a Want

With one week still remaining in the federal telecommunications regulator’s hearing focused on the state of Internet access in Canada, the process has taken a surprising turn that ultimately cries out for leadership from Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.

Jean-Pierre Blair, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), opened the hearing two weeks ago with a warning: even if an ideal speed target could be identified, there was no guarantee of regulatory action. Blais urged participants not to confuse “wants” with “needs”, a framing that suggested the goal of the hearing was to identify the bare minimum Internet service required by Canadians.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the remarks attracted immediate headlines that the Commission would not guarantee basic Internet speeds. The CRTC insists that only comments on the public record count, but it is obvious that the commissioners pay close attention to media commentary and social media postings.

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April 25, 2016 3 comments Columns
The CRTC listened intently to the CFRO presentation by Robin Puga (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8XhHm1

Why Universal, Affordable Internet Access is a Job for Everyone

The future of Internet access in Canada takes centre stage this week at a major hearing focused on whether it’s time to update the rules associated with universal access to communications services. Canada has long had regulations in place that ensure that basic telephone service is available to everyone, using a funding model that subsidizes higher costs in rural communities.

My weekly technology column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that for most Canadians, however, basic telephone service no longer adequately addresses their needs. Today the Internet is widely recognized as the most indispensable communications tool, providing access to everything from electronic messaging to entertainment. While debates over broadband access have lingered for more than 15 years, there are still thousands of Canadians without service, owing to the lack of access or affordability.

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April 12, 2016 3 comments Columns
Broadband by Gavin St. Ours (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6Yzymi

Budget 2016: Is It The End of a Canadian Digital Strategy?

Canada’s experience with a national digital strategy has been marked primarily by delays and underwhelming policies. The Conservatives took years to release their strategy as Industry Minister Christian Paradis did nothing, leaving it to James Moore to ultimately release a digital strategy without a strategy. Those hoping for the rejuvenated approach under the Liberals seem likely to be left disappointed. Indeed, Canada’s long road toward a national digital strategy may have come to an end with Budget 2016. The government has some very modest commitments on the digital front, but the budget appears to signal a shift in approach with the Liberals substituting a digital strategy for one focused on innovation. Addressing Canada’s innovation record is important (I’ll have more to say on the issue in a column next week), but emphasizing innovation is not a substitute for addressing digital policy.

The headline digital policy expenditure in Budget 2016 is a $500 million commitment over five year to support broadband in rural and remote areas. While further details are promised in the future, this commitment comes without any reference to an actual broadband goal or target. A commitment to universal affordable broadband access regardless of location is what is really needed (the CRTC may step in to do so as part of its upcoming basic services obligation hearing) but that is not in the budget. The problem is particularly pronounced within first nations communities, where reports indicate that almost half of households do not have an Internet connection.

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March 23, 2016 6 comments News
Ottawa City Hall by Lord of the Wings© (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4PJ1QX

City Councils Strike Back in Bell Broadband Battle

The Canadian battle over broadband services has taken an unexpected turn in recent weeks as Bell’s effort to win high profile support for its appeal of a crucial ruling issued by Canada’s telecom regulator appears to have backfired. After support from Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson for the telecom giant came to light, city councillors in both cities fought back with motions rejecting the mayors’ positions and expressing support for more competitive Internet services.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the issue started with a July 2015 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision that extended policy measures designed to support independent Internet providers to emerging fast fibre connections. The ruling meant that Bell would be required to share their infrastructure with independent carriers on a wholesale basis. The policy guarantees Bell a profit on the connections, but also promotes increased competition that should provide consumers with more choice and better pricing.

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February 16, 2016 3 comments Columns