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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.

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Trevor

Edmonton

There is no competition here in Canada, you have Telus, Rodgers and Bell, they dictate everything that happens and there is no one to stop them. If a startup gets going much like Fido did in the late 1990's Then it just gets bought by one of the big 3 (Rodgers bought Fido) It is a monopoly by non-competition. All the carriers know what each other one charges and they have a guaranteed rate of return for any service that is provided. All 3 have plans that are so identical it is disturbing. Now it is just a numbers game, the company with the most customers wins.

Posted August 5, 2009 05:12 PM

Steve La Rocque

Ottawa

Do lobbyists working the CRTC need to publicly register somewhere?

To me, it seems a disproportionate number of CRTC decisions and reports end up favouring the biggest corporations with the most clout. While I am sure many of the people at the CRTC try to remain as independent as possible, continuous lobbying by deep-pocketed interests will always skew the overall and long-term results.

Has the CBC undertaken any investigative journalism into the lobbying at the CRTC by the big players? The public needs to know whether this is a significant problem and who is spending how much to influence the actions at the CRTC.

Posted August 7, 2009 01:54 PM

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