For many years, Canadians have lamented the state of competition for Internet broadband services, pointing to concerns regarding price and lack of choice. Earlier this month, the CRTC seemed to agree, admitting in a decision involving competitive access that it is “important that the Commission revise its approach to promote competition and protect the interests of Canadians.” Andy Kaplan-Myrth is Vice-President, Regulatory and Carrier Affairs at TekSavvy, one of the few remaining independent competitors in Canada. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the current state of competition, the recent CRTC decision, and what this might mean for the Canadian market.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 186: Andy Kaplan-Myrth on the CRTC’s Last Ditch Attempt to Fix Canada’s Internet Competition Problem
Why the Government’s New Telecom Policy Directive Means More of the Same for Canada’s Communications Competition Woes
Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne unveiled the government’s proposed new telecom policy directive yesterday, hailing it as a “historic step.” However, a closer look at the policy suggests that the only thing that is history are any immediate hopes for a more competitive communications marketplace in Canada. Once again, the government has shown itself unwilling to take a strong stand in favour of consumers and competition, instead releasing a directive that largely retains the status quo and sends the message to CRTC Chair Ian Scott to stay the course. Indeed, the primary purpose behind the announcement would appear to be an attempt to shield the government from criticism over its decision to leave the controversial CRTC decision on wholesale Internet access intact, thereby denying consumers the prospect of lower costs for Internet services.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 110: Waiting to Connect – Karen Barnes and Catherine Middleton on the CCA’s Report on Internet Access in Canadian Rural, Remote and Indigenous Communities
Canada’s strategy to ensure that everyone from coast to coast to coast has access to affordable high speed Internet services is widely viewed as a failure and the source of ongoing frustration for many, particularly those in rural, remote and indigenous communities. Those communities often face the prospect of no broadband access or at best expensive, unreliable services. The Council of Canadian Academies recently convened an expert panel on High-Throughput Networks for Rural and Remote Communities in Canada.
The panel’s report is a must read for anyone concerned with equitable and affordable Internet access and the consequences of leaving many communities – particularly indigenous communities – behind. The panel was chaired by Karen Barnes, the former president of Yukon University and included Professor Catherine Middleton, the Director of the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management at Ryerson University. They join the Law Bytes podcast this week to discuss the panel, the report, and the recommendations for policy action.
The CRTC yesterday released its wholesale Internet rates decision, shocking the industry and consumer groups by reversing its 2019 ruling and virtually guaranteeing increased costs for consumers and less competition for Internet services. Indeed, within hours, TekSavvy, one of the largest independent providers, announced that it was withdrawing from the forthcoming spectrum auction and would no longer offer mobile services. In other words, the competitive and consumer cost reverberations from the decision will impact both broadband and wireless services. When the increased costs coming from Bill C-10 for Internet services are added to the equation, the Internet could get a lot more expensive in Canada.
Much of the blame rests with the government as it appointed CRTC Chair Ian Scott, who has presided over a dismantling of a pro-consumer, pro-innovative policy approach. Moreover, the former ISED Minister Navdeep Bains opened the door to this decision last summer by inviting the CRTC to re-examine the 2019 decision and current ISI Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is seemingly completely uninterested in his own department’s digital files. I’ve written that this government has become the most anti-Internet government in Canadian history and the path that led to yesterday’s decision vaults to near the top of the evidence list.