Category Archives: telecommunications

Dispelling the myths of wireless myth-busting

Thor is a myth. Wireless problems in Canada are not.

Thor is a myth. Wireless problems in Canada are not.

A report last week from Scotia Capital on Canada’s wireless sector caused a commotion, seeking as it did to dispel certain myths with facts. With both the government and regulators recently turning their attention to the wireless market, analyst Jeff Fan sought to tackle some of the commonly held beliefs - namely that Canadian carriers are uncompetitive and are therefore charging high prices.

Telecom consultants and the carriers themselves touted the report as proof that no additional regulation or special dispensations to new competitors are needed. “We think it is time for the regulators to declare victory on the policies they adopted five years ago,” when spectrum set-asides paved the way for new entrants, the report said.

University of Ottawa internet law professor Michael Geist fired back earlier this week with his own take. In his estimation, high prices are no myth - Canada’s wireless market is indeed “woefully uncompetitive.” Consumer advocates Open Media, meanwhile, have issued their own report, urging policy makers to fix the country’s “dysfunctional” situation.

In light of this debate, I thought it might be instructive to take a look at some of the myth-busting facts presented in the Scotia Capital report, to see if they can indeed bear the weight of closer scrutiny. It turns out that they generally can’t. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 13, 2013 in bell, mobile, rogers, telecommunications, telus


Telecom oligopoly, climate change: what’s the diff?

“Broadband competition? Sure, we got lots. By the way, can you pass me a Coke?”

Question: what do broadband oligopolies and global warming have in common? Answer: they both have their share of deniers. Chief among them in both cases is the American Enterprise Institute, an influential right-wing think tank funded by the likes of Exxon and AT&T.

The AEI has been on a tear of late in regards to broadband, paying writers and academics to counter the raft of literature and critics who are rightfully complaining about the moribund state of high-speed internet access in the United States (which has relevance to Canada, where the situation is similar).

Just this week, the organization fielded its own columnist James Pethokoukis to pen “10 reasons why U.S. broadband isn’t as bad as you think” for Business Insider, and Roslyn Layton, an American working as a professor and telecom consultant in Denmark, to write about how “America’s broadband service is not falling behind.” Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 1, 2013 in environment, telecommunications


Is PIAC throwing cellphone users under the bus?

Cellphone users may be asking themselves: Et tu Brute?

The CRTC kicks off a week of hearings on Monday on the nascent Wireless Code, a set of rules that will govern some of the terms and conditions of cellphone service in Canada.

First up at the hearings on Monday will be the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which caused something of a stir late last week when news of its siding with Bell Canada got out. The consumer advocacy group and the company have co-signed a submission to the process that states the Canadian Radio-television and Television Commission’s Wireless Code should have ultimate authority in the land, overriding any provincial rules that may in fact be more favourable to customers.

Bell’s support of such a position isn’t surprising - the CRTC wouldn’t even be thinking about imposing cellphone rules if the large carriers hadn’t originally asked it to. The companies were scared out of their wits by the growing trend of provinces enacting their own tough rules, so they asked the federal regulator to get involved - and to hopefully impose a less rigorous code.

PIAC’s agreement with that position and siding with frequent enemy Bell, however, is something of a shock, given that the organization is supposed to be fighting for more consumer rights rather than less. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 11, 2013 in bell, crtc, telecommunications


Shaw-Rogers spectrum deal shafts Canadians

So happy together: Jim Shaw and Ted Rogers years ago.

So happy together: Jim Shaw and Ted Rogers years ago.

It’s times like these when you can’t help but feel for politicians. Almost.

Despite the federal government’s best intentions, Canada’s wireless market just isn’t turning out how it hoped, as evidenced by the recent announcement of a spectrum deal between Shaw and Rogers, two supposedly competitive companies. Rogers says it is buying spectrum licenses and Hamilton, Ont.-based Mountain Cablevision from its Calgary-based “rival” for a cool $700 million.

For the government and the general public, the whole deal stinks something fierce. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 6, 2013 in rogers, shaw, telecommunications


Choices are clear in CRTC’s wireless code

phonesThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has released the draft of its long-awaited Wireless Code of Conduct, along with an invitation for public comments on it (the deadline is Feb. 15). In a nutshell: there’s some good in the document, but otherwise there’s nothing earth-shattering or unexpected. Which makes it something of a letdown.

The regulator should be given credit for making the proposed code relatively short and easy to understand. And the way the draft is laid out makes it simple to see what rules consumers are pulling for, and which are favoured by carriers. From the consumer’s standpoint, wherever the CRTC presents a number of possibilities to set a rule, the correct answer is almost always Option 1.

For example, Option 1 under the “unlocking phones” provision would require a service provider to unlock a device after 30 days of service, no questions asked. Option 2, however, introduces questions of whether the customer is getting a subsidy for the device… yadda yadda… before determining whether the carrier has to unlock it. Like I said, Option 1 is the consumer-friendly choice - and with this whole code supposedly being enacted to protect the consumer, the choice is obvious. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 29, 2013 in crtc, mobile, telecommunications


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