The chair of the CRTC says the federal government should move on a two-year old recommendation by a blue ribbon telecom panel to transfer spectrum regulation from Industry Canada to the commission. The chair of the CRTC says the federal government should move on a two-year old recommendation by a blue ribbon telecom panel to transfer spectrum regulation from Industry Canada to the commission.In an interview with Tech Media Reports at the Canadian Telecom Summit today in Toronto, Konrad von Finckenstein said it makes sense to consolidate all telecom licensing - and possibility even telecom policy - within a single regulatory authority. "The (Industry) minister is responsible for telecom policy so he could delegate it to us subject to certain directions. And, he would continue to have the ability to review and vary if he didn't like what the CRTC does. It's not as if you're giving up your authority," he explained.Von Finkenstein said there are ongoing discussions with Industry Canada about an expanded role for the CRTC in the area of spectrum, but couldn't comment on the status of those talks. "It's really something that's the prerogative of the Prime Minister, the government. They have to be convinced of the wisdom of it. The TPR (Telecom Policy Review Panel) said it, and I've said my two cents. It's a process that unfolds behind closed doors so I can't really speak about it," he said. And, as he stressed, licensing is what the CRTC does best. "That's what we do. We license people for wireline, for broadcasting, etcetera. Why not for wireless?"In its March 2006 report, the Telecom Review panel called for a more consistent and unified regulatory approach to wireless, wireline and broadcasting technologies, including moving current spectrum regulatory and licensing functions to the CRTC. The recommendation wasn't well accepted by Canada's wireless association. "We certainly weren't pushing for a move over to the CRTC , Peter Barnes, chief executive of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association told Tech Media Reports days after the telecom policy review report was released. "We're more of the ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it routine."The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has made a similar recommendation, noting that most countries have merged spectrum and telecom regulation within a single agency."Canada, however, has not," von Finkenstein told senior industry executives at today's conference. "Here's an example of what can happen under our present divided regime: When a radio applicant wants to launch a new station or change a broadcasting frequency, they must receive approval from both the CRTC and Industry Canada. This often creates delays in licensing, additional expense for applicants and duplication of activities."As a first and interim step, he said the CRTC and Industry Canada must fully integrate their processes so as to ensure that:there are no outstanding issues as to starting the process and the sequencing of the various steps required there are clear time limits and no unnecessary delays, and there are no determinations that are incompatible with each other. Time for a single Communications ActVon Finkenstein also used today's event to reiterate his call for a single Communications Act governing both broadcasting and telecommunications. "It's our view that eventually but inevitably, telecommunications and broadcasting must be governed under one converged Act," he saidIn the meantime, he outlined interim steps that can be taken, including administrative and regulatory changes using the authority the CRTC has under existing legislation. As a first step, the commission will soon announce a series of proposed changes to its Rules of Procedure aimed at harmonizing and streamlining rules to reflect a converging communications environment and positioning the CRTC for future legislative changes. "We can also respond to convergence by seeking a more rational assignment of responsibilities," he added. "This will require amendment of the existing Telecommunications Act."