Like many Canadians, I spent most of the massive Rogers outage completely offline. With the benefit of hindsight, my family made a big mistake by relying on a single provider for everything: broadband, home phone, cable, and wireless services on a family plan. When everything went down, everything really went down. No dial tone, no channels, no connectivity. Work was challenging and contact with the kids shut off. It was disorienting and a reminder of our reliance on communications networks for virtually every aspect of our daily lives.
So what comes next? We cannot let this become nothing more than a “what did you do” memory alongside some nominal credit from Rogers for the inconvenience. Canada obviously has a competition problem when it comes to communications services resulting in some of the highest wireless and broadband pricing in the developed world. Purchasing more of those services as a backup – whether an extra broadband or cellphone connection – will be unaffordable to most and only exacerbate the problem. Even distributing the services among providers likely means that consumers take a financial hit as they walk away from the benefits from a market that has incentivized bundling discounts. Consumers always pay the price in these circumstances, but there are policy solutions that could reduce the risk of catastrophic outages and our reliance on a single provider for so many essential services.
Read more ›
The future of Canadian communications law has emerged as political hot potato in recent weeks with political parties engaged in finger pointing over who is acting – or failing to act – on issues closely aligned to cultural policy. Just prior to the election call, Dwayne Winseck, a professor at Carleton who has been one of Canada’s most prominent experts on communications and cultural policy, joined the podcast to provide his take on the initial report from the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel, the tech-lash against companies such as Google and Facebook, and what the numbers tell us about the state of media and advertising in Canada.
Read more ›
The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel’s surprising decision to keep the 2,200 public submissions secret for months has had immediate repercussions. Some organizations are refusing to disclose their submissions until the panel does and others have noted the missed opportunity for public discussion of a vitally important issue. To date, about 30 submissions have been posted, a tiny percentage of the total. The decision has had an impact on university courses and predictably created an information asymmetry with some companies cherry-picking who gets to see their submission.
Read more ›
The deadline for submissions to the government’s Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel passed last week. I posted my submission yesterday, joined by several other organizations representing differing perspectives (CRTC, CBC, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Writers Guild of Canada, Internet Society Canada Chapter, CMCRP). However, public availability of submissions will apparently be the exception for the foreseeable future. The panel has rejected an open and transparent policy making process in which public submissions are publicly available, choosing instead to keep the submissions secret for months.
Read more ›
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.
Read more ›