The CRTC has granted struggling wireless cable operators Look Communications Inc. and Craig Wireless International Inc. greater flexibility to use their spectrum resources to deliver non-programming services, namely high-speed Internet. With the release of Broadcasting Public Notice 2004-63, the commission changed the rules regarding spectrum usage requirements, allowing the two operators to use a minimum of 50% of their spectrum for distribution of TV programming, excluding pay-per-view services. Both companies had called for greater regulatory flexibility in their licence renewal applications (RoW, Sept. 9/03). It appears as though they got their wish. Michael Cytrynbaum, Look’s chair of the board of directors, tells Report on Wireless that at first glance the company is satisfied with the commission’s ruling. But, he adds, Look is currently undertaking a thorough review of the decision to make sure it affords the company as much flexibility as it seems to provide. He expects the review could take about 10 days to two weeks. (Report on Wireless will have more on this as it develops.) Boyd Craig, president of Craig Wireless, is equally satisfied with the ruling. "It’s what we were asking for. So we’re actually quite pleased that we received it," he says. The company has built a line-of-sight network in Vancouver, but demand for its wireless cable TV services wasn’t high and that’s why it was asking for more flexibility in spectrum use. Craig also revealed in the interview that the company plans to make a significant announcement regarding its network and spectrum within the next month. He kept the details close to his chest noting that it’s "confidential at this point." Both companies’ hopes were buoyed earlier this year when Industry Canada proposed looser rules surrounding usage of the MDS band (2500-2690 MHz). The department proposed allowing MDS operators to use up to 50% of their spectrum for non-programming services (RoW, May 19/04). Michael Cytrynbaum, Look’s chair of the board, told Report on Wireless in May that it was welcome news, but something the government had to do since other jurisdictions have already made policy modifications. "At this stage, (the proposal) would give us enough spectrum to service the clientele that we want to service for the foreseeable future," he added. Craig’s president Boyd Craig was more blunt during hearings at the CRTC, saying that if the company wasn’t able to use more of its spectrum for Internet services, it would likely fail. "I think, too, that if we do not have an Internet strategy, chances are that our video strategy may fail. I think in the absence of an Internet offering, our whole business could be in jeopardy," Craig said in response to a question from CRTC commissioner Joan Pennefather. While the CRTC ruling should provide the two companies’ business plans with a shot in the arm, it’s not yet a done deal. Industry Canada, which was to have received first round comments on its proposal, has since delayed the deadline for comments until October 1. Interested parties are waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to release the details of its 2500-2690 MHz policy changes (RoW, July 27/04). More on the three companies’ licence renewal decisions will be published in an upcoming issue of Report on Wireless affiliate publication Canadian Communications Reports.