What a clusterfuck telecom regulation in this country is. It's more apparent this past week than most.
First, and most noisily, was the blow-up over UBB (usage-based billing). Somehow, the CRTC thought it would be just fine if the Huge Incumbent Telco ISPs could impose data caps and per-gigabyte billing on the small independent ISPs that use the incumbents' last mile to deliver internet access. This lead to an online outcry of epic proportions, which admittedly somewhat mystifies me, given that some 96% of internet-using Canadians are customers of the Huge Incumbent Telcos and so already have data caps and UBB.
This was followed on by the Federal Court ruling that Wind Mobile's ownership structure doesn't meet the Canadian ownership requirements for a telecom company, giving them 45 days to either become adequately Canadian or pull the plug on their upstart mobile network. Wind, the most promising of the wireless startups to come out of the last spectrum auction, has the majority of its debt held by Orascom, an Egyptian multinational. Having bought the requisite spectrum, Wind's application to start offering mobile phone service was rejected by the CRTC, but the government intervened to "vary" the Commission's ruling, permitting Wind to begin operations. Now, 14 months and better than 140,000 subscribers later, the only mobile phone company that poses a credible threat to the usurious cellphone rates of the incumbents has had the rug yanked out from under them.
Canada's telecom sector closely resembles its banking industry -- dominated by several huge, well-heeled incumbents which form a de-facto cartel. None of them are interested in disturbing the status quo, much preferring to enjoy raking in profits through extortionate rates that consumers must pay if they are to participate fully in modern society. The notion of substantial foreign ownership of our telecom sector doesn't exactly fill me with glee, but it might be preferable to the stifling lack of competition that currently exists.
Innovation, in both the mobile and internet spaces, depends on having adequately fast and reasonably-priced network access. Until independent ISPs have their own last mile and can bring their services directly to the consumers, and until independent cellphone companies manage to get a toehold and can stand up against the incumbents, the ability of Canadians to use the cutting-edge applications of both technologies will continue to lag. And until we have some real alternatives to the incumbents in our telecom offerings, we'll continue to get screwed.
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. ... Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. ... Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women?
Hat-tip to damned_colonial.
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