The state of Internet access in Canada has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years as consumers and businesses alike assess whether Canada has kept pace with the need for universal access to fast, affordable broadband. What is now beyond debate is that there are still hundreds of thousands of Canadians without access to broadband services from local providers and that for those that have access, actual speeds may be lower than advertised and below the targets set by the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator.
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, manages the dot-ca domain and has played an increasingly important role on Internet policy matters. CIRA recently submitted a report on the urban-rural broadband divide as part of a CRTC process on potential barriers to broadband in underserved areas. Josh Tabish from CIRA joins me this week on the podcast to discuss the IPT, the CRTC submission, and the future of universal access to broadband in Canada.
Read more ›
Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry today promoted the government’s plans for wireless affordability. The effort was largely an attempt to reiterate its wireless affordability platform, which targeted a 25 per cent reduction in consumer wireless bills by emphasizing more competition through MVNOs and spectrum set-asides. The renewed emphasis on the policy comes as an updated Wall Report finds that prices have been declining in some baskets (the long-overdue emergence of unlimited-ish plans a key factor), but not in the core middle tier of plans where prices remain high. The government states “Canadians have been paying more overall compared to consumers in other G7 countries and Australia” and noted that the government will track pricing on a quarterly basis starting from January 2020. Coming on the heels of threats from incumbent telecom companies such as Telus, it was good for the government to re-assert its policy objectives for the sector.
Read more ›
The Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report calls for a massive overhaul of Canadian communications law including significant changes to the CRTC that even include a name change to the Canadian Communications Commission. Yet more significant – and seemingly more controversial – is a change to the requirements for commissioners. The current CRTC Act provides for the creation of regional commissioners, who must reside in their region with the expectation that they are better positioned to raise regional concerns. The panel recommends dropping regional commissioners altogether, requiring instead that all commissioners reside in the Ottawa/Gatineau region:
Read more ›
Janet Yale, the chair of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel, appeared earlier this week before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to provide an update on the report. Her opening remarks directly addressed concerns regarding the regulation of news, claiming that there has been some confusion on the issue. Yet far from clearing up any “confusion”, Yale proceeded to inaccurately describe the state of news regulation in Canada and advocate for an expansive regulatory framework for Internet-based news aggregators:
Read more ›
The big headline story from the first week of the CRTC hearing into the wireless market was undoubtedly Telus CEO Darren Entwistle closing hours of testimony with a threat to slash investment and jobs if the Commission follows through with a mandated MVNO model. Entwistle told the CRTC:
There’s been a lot of conjecture related to disinvestment or reduced investment. It’s been a high topic related to what will happen as it pertains to MVNOs being introduced or another 25 percent price reduction being enforced, having already bettered the existing one that’s in place. And there are some views that this is just theatre perpetrated by the incumbents, in that if mandated MVNOs come to fruition or there’s an enforced second tier 25 percent reduction we will go on with status quo investing.
So one of the additional things I would like to file with you in confidence that I brought here today is a Board resolution at TELUS signed by all of our Board directors instructing management to pursue an investment reduction plan and a job reduction plan and a philanthropic giving reduction plan should these eventualities present themselves. And we’re discussing numbers where the reduction, and we’ll go public with it, but I’ll file with you the Board resolution, in the vicinity of a billion dollars of reduced investment over the next 5‑year. The reduced employment is in the zip code of 5,000 jobs over the next 5‑years.
In other words, in a bid to demonstrate that this was not theatre, Entwistle engaged in theatrics by pointing to a resolution from a board of which he is a member that supports his case.
Read more ›