Post Tagged with: "competition"

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Responding to the Rogers Outage: Time to Get Serious About Competition, Consumer Rights, and Communications Regulation

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.

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July 10, 2022 23 comments News
Payphone off the hook by /ˈbɪnd(ə)lstɪf/ https://flic.kr/p/VmNUQV (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

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May 27, 2022 6 comments News
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 120: Vass Bednar, Ana Qarri and Robin Shaban on Fixing Canada’s Competition Law Problem

The proposed Rogers – Shaw merger has placed Canada’s competition law and policy back into the spotlight as consumers frustrated by high wireless prices and a market that many believe already suffers from insufficient competition face the prospect of even less competition should the deal be approved. Last week, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology agreed, issuing a recommendation that “the Committee believes the merger should not proceed” and identifying the need for conditions in the event that it does.

Vass Bednar, Ana Quarri, and Robin Shaban recently conducted an extensive study for the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry on competition in data driven markets in Canada. Vass, the Executive Director of McMaster University’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) in Digital Society Program, Ana, a recent graduate of McGill University Faculty of Law, and Robin, co-founder and senior economist at Vivic Research, join me on this week’s Law Bytes podcast to discuss their study, the intersection between competition and digital and telecom policy, and their proposed reforms to reshape Canadian competition law.

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March 7, 2022 2 comments Podcasts
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 83: Inside in the Industry Committee Hearing on the Proposed Rogers-Shaw Merger

When the proposed Rogers – Shaw merger was announced last month, it immediately became a flashpoint for Canada’s ongoing debate over wireless competition and pricing. The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology moved quickly to put the proposed merger under the microscope with hearings that have included Rogers and Shaw along with academics, competitors, and regulators. I was invited to appear before the committee and provide my take on the implications of the merger. This week’s Law Bytes podcast goes inside the virtual hearing room with my short opening statement followed by clips of the Q &A with several Members of Parliament.

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April 12, 2021 2 comments Podcasts
Monopoly Income Tax Ver1 by Chris Potter http://www.ccpixs.com/ (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dAufY9

Forget Link Licensing and Cross-Subsidies: When it Comes to Tech, Canada Should be Focused on Competition Law and Tax Policy

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was recently asked about his plans to mandate licensing of links to news articles on social-media sites such as Facebook. While the policy is often referred to as a link tax, Mr. Guilbeault insisted that it was not a tax, stating “some people think every time the government acts, it’s a tax. What I’m working on has nothing to do with tax.” Instead of a government tax scheme, Mr. Guilbeault explained that he intends to have the Copyright Board of Canada set a fee for the links to articles, backed by government power to levy fines for non-payment.

Leaving aside the semantic debate over what constitutes a government tax, my Globe and Mail op-ed argues that the comments are notable because when it comes to addressing the concerns associated with the large technology companies, Canada should be working on taxation. Mr. Guilbeault has said his top legislative priority is to “get money from web giants,” yet rather than focusing on conventional tax policy, his preference is to entrench cross-subsidy programs that keep the money out of general tax revenues and instead allow for direct support to pet projects and favoured sectors.

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October 16, 2020 2 comments Columns