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.
Telecom by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/53jSy4
Why the Government’s New Telecom Policy Directive Means More of the Same for Canada’s Communications Competition Woes
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.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 97: John Lawford on Why the CRTC Should Take Action on Inadequate Low-Cost Wireless Plans
The CRTC’s wireless decision earlier this year dubbed the “MVN-no” decision given its very limited opening to mobile virtual network operators in Canada sparked widespread frustration with the Commission. That decision included one less discussed element, however, namely the expectation that the major wireless carriers would introduce low-cost plans to ensure connectivity for low-income Canadians. Those plans were recently introduced, but John Lawford, the Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, wasn’t impressed. He wrote to the CRTC asking the Commission to take action over plans that aren’t even offered under the main carrier brands. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about that issue, the ongoing concerns with the wireless affordability in Canada, and the deepening frustration with the CRTC.
Last week was a busy one in the wireless world in Canada. Just as people were debating the proposed Rogers – Shaw merger, the CRTC released its long awaited wireless decision involving the possibility of mandated MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators. While the CRTC notably concluded that Canadian wireless pricing is high relative to other countries and attributed that to insufficient competition, it ultimately was unwilling to fully embrace a broad-based mandated MVNO model. To help break down these recent developments, joining the Law Bytes podcast this week are Dwayne Winseck, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University and the director of the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project, and Ben Klass, a senior research associate at the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project and board member at the Internet Society Canada Chapter. They both join the podcast in a personal capacity representing only their own views.