CRTC looks ahead five years, says competition serves subscribers well

As part of this review, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) filed its vision in support of a strong internationally competitive telecommunications industry which delivers services that provide a social and economic benefit to Canadians.The policy review will include the gathering of information through submissions from interested parties; public consultations to clarify submissions and the commissioning of a limited number of contextual reports. The primary areas of interest for the three-member panel are: What kind of a regulatory regime is needed; how all sectors of the economy can gain better access; and how to encourage more advanced applications and services.

discussion paper published

It is expected that all major telecommunications companies, consumer associations and industry representatives as well as equipment suppliers will ensure that their views are heard by the panel. As the independent regulatory agency overseeing the application of Canadian telecommunications legislation for the past three decades, the CRTC offered in its discussion paper an overview of the evolution of telecommunications legislation in Canada and how the regulatory framework was influenced. The paper identified what the commission believed worked and where there could have been improvements. It examined whether the basic principles of universal services at just and reasonable rates are still relevant in today’s market. It addressed the obligation to serve that has underscored the activities of the incumbent telephone companies. The paper examined as well whether subscribers continue to require protection and whether that protection is best served by the CRTC or the courts or the Competition Tribunal.
The Commission outlined a view of what to expect in the next five years. The CRTC says Canada may be on the verge of significant facilities-based competition after years of a slow progression to competition in local services. It is optimistic Canada can take advantage of the new information-based economy. Price and service competition is serving consumers well, according to the CRTC.
For non-facilities based services providers the CRTC is more concerned about the need to protect access rights as well as protection of the consumers’ right to use their network provider to access their service provider of choice.
Still the Commission believes that Canada is ahead of the pack and that “regulations for the sake of regulation” is not necessary. However, regulation should continue where it is required to protect consumers from excesses of market power.

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