The Canadian telecom scene attracts some impressive chroniclers (thinking in particular of Micheal Geist, David Ellis and Mark Goldberg). The posts below are from a couple of writers I've recently added to my telecom reading list, providing keen insight into the current chapter of the ongoing saga that is Canadian telecom.
The CRTC's hearings on Usage-Based Billing (UBB)
commences next Monday (just when you thought it was safe to surf ... it's back!). As we all wait anxiously for the precedings to commence, Peter Nowak
makes seven policy recommendations so we might achieve "telecom equilibrium". As the title of his post makes clear, he believes that "there's no left or right in telecom, only pragmatism"
On the surface of it, it seems the debate over various telecommunications issues often boils down to a case of right versus left – the market purists versus regulation aficionados. People seem to either fall on one side of an issue or the other and therefore into one of these two camps, and never the twain shall meet.
That’s too bad because, as with all idealism, sticking to one possible solution is unrealistic. It’s especially true in telecom because a) it’s a very expensive game to play, b) it’s an industry that is still transitioning from its days as a government-controlled beast, and c) it’s therefore next to impossible to have an ideal situation. There simply has to be a middle ground.
Check out the post for his 7 ideas and then take a look at a piece by Dwayne Winseck
who yesterday responded to Nowak. Winseck finds a lot to agree with ... but takes exception to one of Nowak suggested guidelines: "Don’t Regulate Cross-media market power (aka vertical integration)
Nowak’s sanguine approach to vertical integration, an approach that I also find problematic. Why? Because he offers no evidence, lessons from history, or theory to support his case.
This is problematic because current evidence shows that concentration across the spectrum of telecom-media-Internet services in Canada is high, in absolute terms, and relative to comparable international standards.... In Canada, the ‘big 4 VIMcos’ — Bell, Shaw, Rogers, Quebecor (QMI) — account for:
86 per cent of cable and satellite distribution market
70 per cent of wireless revenues
63 per cent of the wired telephone market
54 per cent of Internet Service Provider revenues
42 per cent of radio
40 per cent of the television universe
19 per cent of the newspaper and magazine markets
61 per cent of total revenues from all of the above media sectors combined.
These numbers are not trumped up in the slightest, and in fact on the matter of the Internet and television services they are actually lower than those offered by the CRTC because of the different methodologies we use. Nowak doesn’t refute these numbers; he just doesn’t deal with them.
Winseck digs deep into the vertical intergration debate in his post (and in a recent Globe and Mail column, link below) ... and it's good to see a friendly back and forth in the comment section.
("Why is European broadband faster and cheaper?"). Written for an American audience, but bound to make a Canadian equally sad, we read:
We went to the Netherlands because it has one of the world's most advanced and fastest-growing fiber-optic networks. We visited homes there that get 100 mbps service in both directions -- they can upload as fast as they download -- as well as TV and phone for under $100 a month.
Telecom-Media-Internet Politics in Canada: Evidence, Theory & Ideology
Dwayne Winseck | 6 July 2011
There's no left or right in telecom, only pragmatism
Peter Nowak | 5 July 2011
Why is European broadband faster and cheaper? Blame the government
Rick Karr | 28Jun 2011
Down the rabbit hole at the CRTC hearing
Dwayne Winseck | 29 June 2011