Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More on Canadian Telecom Policy Review

This is a follow-up to the March 23 post Canadian Telecom Policy Review Report.

Last week, a federal panel created in 2005 to look into Canadian telecommunications policy published its much awaited report.

The panel called for a major deregulation of the telecom market, a new federal program to get broadband service to all remaining unserved areas of Canada, a new Telecommunications Consumer Agency to handle consumer complaints, and a Telecommunications Competition Tribunal.

Here is a recent column by University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist Canada's Telecom Policy Review: The Rest of the Story:

"Their 127 recommendations centered primarily on the call for a new regulatory approach that emphasizes market independence over government interference combined with a slimmed-down CRTC and list of policy priorities.While those recommendations are obviously noteworthy, there are a series of consumer-focused proposals that should not be overlooked. In fact, having established its market-oriented credentials, the panel proceeded to identify a series of important areas - including network neutrality, ubiquitous broadband access, privacy, spam, and consumer protection - that merit government intervention or support."

On the increasingly contentious issue of network neutrality (which means that broadband providers cannot favour one content provider or application over another), World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee said in an interview published today in the Toronto Star that he fears the emergence of a "tiered Internet".

Under that scenario the phone and cable conglomerates that provide the backbone for the Net would start charging tolls to companies that want assured access to consumers. The little companies, the non-profit websites would get screwed.

"It stops being the Net if a supplier of downloaded video pays to connect to a particular set of consumers who are connected to a particular cable company. It would no longer be an open information space," Berners-Lee is quoted as saying.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm

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