The National Post featured a revealing article on the weekend featuring comments from both RIM and Google about the high prices associated with Canadian wireless services, particularly the cost of the data. The numbers in the article point out that Canada is not even close to being competitive with countries […]
Post Tagged with: "rogers"
My weekly column (Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) looks at the current debate over the spectrum auction set for 2008. The first round of the consultation comments closed last month, generating nearly 50 industry submissions, yet surprisingly only four Canadians provided their views (follow up responses can be made until June 27th). By comparison, in the United States more than 250,000 people have written to the Federal Communications Commission to urge it to set conditions on a forthcoming spectrum auction that would make Internet access more open, affordable, and accessible.
Despite the lack of Canadian public awareness, the issue has an enormous impact on telecommunications since it plays a pivotal role in determining wireless competition. The three incumbent wireless providers (Bell, Telus, and Rogers) along with some business groups stand on one side, calling for an "open auction" that would involve minimal pre-conditions and see the available spectrum auctioned off to the highest bidders. These groups argue that the Canadian wireless market is already competitive and that the government should avoid setting aside spectrum for new providers.
Major cable companies (Shaw, Quebecor, Cogeco) and smaller telecom companies (MTS Allstream, Toronto Hydro Telecom) provide the alternate perspective. They are seeking a "set-aside" that would reserve spectrum for new entrants. These companies point to data that places Canada well below other developed countries on metrics such as the number of wireless subscribers, pricing, and the introduction of innovative services. They also note that Canadian spectrum auctions are not truly open, since foreign ownership restrictions exclude many potential bidders.
While the incumbents have been quick to characterize a spectrum set-aside as akin to a government subsidy, they fail to acknowledge that they were handed reserved spectrum to get off the ground.
Appeared in the Toronto Star on June 18, 2007 as Spectrum Auction Has Plenty on the Line Appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on June 19, 2007 as Federal Spectrum Auction Puts Wireless Competition on the Line Last week, the titans of the telecommunications industry, including Ted Rogers and BCE's Michael […]
Engadget reports that some Canadian cable providers, particularly Rogers and Shaw, are activating the broadcast flag onto a questionable amount of content. The site says that "users who are trying to record said programming via their own Windows Vista Media Center setup are receiving all sorts of errors and messages […]
My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on the Rogers traffic shaping issue and the resulting impact on consumer rights, competition, and non-P2P applications. If you read my original posting and the many comments that followed, the column covers similar terrain. I therefore think it might be more useful to respond to an interesting posting from Matt Roberts on the Rogers issue. Roberts confirms the Rogers shaping (as does Mark Evans in a posting that refers to it as bandwidth management, a distinction without a difference in my view) but then takes me to task for wrapping it into the net neutrality debate.
The post raises an interesting and important question – is throttling/traffic shaping a net neutrality issue? I should note that regardless of the answer, I believe there is no question that there are problems with the current Rogers approach. The lack of transparency, the misleading service claims, and the inclusion of bandwidth caps that are rendered difficult to achieve all point to an issue that should attract the attention of regulatory agencies (and perhaps class action lawyers).
As for whether there is a net neutrality problem, that likely depends on your definition of net neutrality.