Where's the competition?

By Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca. Much of the debate around issues like net neutrality and wireless competition in this country often ends up at the doorstep of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which today issued a report on the state of the communications industry.

The full 299-page report is here. What caught our eye was this line from the press release, which also appears in the executive summary in the report:

"Competitors continued to gain ground on the established telecommunications companies, with their total revenues increasing by 10%, going from $15.9 billion in 2007 to $17.6 billion in 2008."

It struck me that this was an unusually high revenue number for the competitors to the established telcos such as Bell and Telus.

So I decided to check the report itself and see what was up.

Evidently the CRTC has a very narrow definition of "established telecommunications companies", which does not include cable companies providing internet or wireline services, nor does it include incumbents who operate "out-of-territory."

For those wondering about the state of competition in Canada's wireless world and where the CRTC stands on the issue, it is perhaps disheartening to read that the CRTC appears to believe the best competition to the established telecommunications companies include, well, the established telcos.

If you just look at the real little guys - resellers or utility telcos - you get a figure closer to $2.4 billion, or about six per cent of the total market.