The deadline for submissions to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel closed on Friday with a handful of organizations such as the CRTC, CBC, and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting posting their submissions online. My full submission can be found here. I argue that Canada’s regulatory approach should be guided by a single, core principle: communications policy, whether telecommunications or broadcasting, is now – or will soon become – Internet policy. This emerging communications world is mediated through the Internet and communications regulatory choices are therefore fundamentally about regulating or governing the Internet. My submission identifies four goals that should guide Canadian communications law and regulation:
1. Universal, affordable access to the network
2. Level regulatory playing field
3. Regulatory humility
4. Fostering competitiveness in the communications sector
The executive summary on each of the four issue is posted below, followed by a list of 23 recommendations contained in the submission. In the coming days, I’ll have posts that unpack some of the key issues.
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Several years ago, Telus had a message for consumers discouraged by repeated studies that found Canadians pay some of the highest wireless rates in the world. In a blog post responding to an OECD study, company executive Ted Woodhead argued “Canada really should be the most expensive country for wireless service in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but we’re not. That’s a great success story we should be celebrating.” Celebrating anything less than the world’s highest wireless prices recently came to mind as Telus tried to sow doubt in a Canadian government commissioned study that highlighted yet again the uncompetitive realities of the Canadian wireless market. The company commissioned its own report that implausibly concludes that “communications services in Canada are cheaper than the prices foreign providers would charge for the same plans.”
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The Canadian government released the 2018 price comparison of wireless pricing just before the holidays, promoting the report with a press release trumpeting “greater competition leads to reduced mobile wireless price plans for Canadians.” Despite the optimism from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, a closer look at the data shows that Canadians continue to pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world. In fact, a comparison of pricing changes since the Liberals won the 2015 election reveals that Canada lags badly behind peer countries in the reduction of pricing of common wireless plans.
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