The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.
Ask the average informed Canadian if foreign ownership rules in telecommunications should change and you would probably get an unhelpful, an underwhelming or an unprintable response. The world seems to have more pressing concerns to worry about.
CRTC subjects large cablecos to high speed access rules
The CRTC has amended its findings on what companies constitute larger cable carriers. The commission's Telecom Decision 99-8 concerned the regulation of incumbent cable carriers' high-speed access services. When the initial ruling came out in July of last year, seven firms were categorized as "larger": Rogers Communications Inc, Vidéotron ltée, Shaw Communications Inc, Cogeco Câble Canada inc, Moffat Communications Ltd, Fundy Cable Ltd and Bragg Communications Inc.
Moffat and Bragg submitted documents that contended they should not be considered among the larger carriers. (Fundy, which has since been sold to Shaw, is no longer a player.) Both said that their customers are spread over a large geographic area, making providing high-speed Internet service unlikely. The arguments were compelling for the commission, which ruled that both firms should be removed from the list. It has determined in Order 2000-317 that Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw and Vidéotron will be considered larger carriers, with the others relegated to minor status. It ordered the bigger companies to form customer services groups to handle access requests from other ISPs and said it favours the standard non-disclosure agreements. Those agreements are to be filed by the big four by May 29.
Northwestel is looking to the territorial governments and a proposed new federal subsidy program to offset the high capital costs of bringing basic and advanced telecom services to northern Canada. As part of its four-year construction program review, filed March 31 with the CRTC, the telco says it's prepared to spend $110 million over the next four years to bring telephone links to unserved areas, and to improve existing systems and services.
The question of how cozy a regulator should be with a regulated industry became a topic for debate at last week's conference of the Law Society of Upper Canada. As a quasi-judicial tribunal, the CRTC is bound by certain codes of conduct, but those rules don't severely limit lobbyists' access to commissioners and senior staff.
Should Canadian cities be able to turn a profit on telcos' access to public land? The cities say ‘yes', the telcos say ‘no' and the laws are subject to varied interpretations. Papers presented at a recent telecom conference raised questions but provided few answers.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima ReportsWorkdayTV.com's foray into web broadcasting deserves to be watched closely. For the moment, the company is capitalizing on the general trend towards fractured audiences seeking niche content – and the web is a natural extension of that market.