Archive for CRTC

Two Tech Innovations That Will Make Canadians Safer

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 26, 2015 by itnerd

If you’re Canadian, you might want to pay attention to this as there are two things that hit the streets that will make you or someone you love safer.

First up is Facebook which is bringing it’s Amber Alert system to Canada. The will send Amber Alerts to Facebook Users in the first critical hours after a child has been abducted. Comprehensive information including a photograph and all available details about the abducted child will be provided on Facebook’s mobile News Feed. The Alert will only appear in the feeds of people who are in the designated search area and users will be able to share the Alert easily and instantly with friends and family.

Here’s Jordan Banks, Global Head of Vertical Strategy and Managing Director with more on this via a video that requires Flash.

Next up is the CRTC. They announced today that they were awarded the Innovative Team Award from the Association of Professional Executive of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) for the organization’s work on Text with 9-1-1 services. This new service enables hearing and speech-impaired Canadians to access emergency services. The rollout of Text with 9-1-1 started this spring and will finish up by the end of this year.

Both of these will make Canadians safer by either giving more people the ability to get help, getting help to our kids in their hour of need. Kudos to the organizations that are bringing these innovations forward.

CRTC Asks Canadians To Help Measure The Performance Of Internet Service In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 22, 2015 by itnerd

Now I have to admit that this is an interesting project. The CRTC yesterday put this press release out asking for Canadians to help it measure how their Internet service at home performs:

The CRTC is recruiting up to 6,200 Canadians to help measure the Internet services provided by the participating ISPs. Volunteers will receive a device, called a “Whitebox”, that they will connect to their modem or router. The Whitebox will periodically measure broadband performance, testing a number of parameters associated with the broadband Internet connection, including download and upload speeds. The measurement tests will run when users are not actively using their Internet connection. The privacy of Canadians will also be assured. No information concerning online activities will be collected.

The results of this project will enable Canadians to gain additional insight into network performance, including actual connection speeds, and provide them with a better undestanding of whether certain Internet services from participating ISPs are delivering speeds as advertised. These results will also provide data that will enable the CRTC to improve its broadband policy-making.

Using these results as a baseline, the CRTC intends to publish a comprehensive report highlighting the findings of this project. While the initial project is set to last for one year, the CRTC intends to continue gathering data beyond the initial year. The data will ultimately form part of the CRTC’s data collection and monitoring activities.

If you want to participate, you should sign up here. But I suggest that you hurry as I suspect that this will be popular.

One thing that I did find interesting is that Rogers put out a press release of its own very quickly. It had a very interesting stance:

Rogers Communications announced today it is pleased the CRTC is launching Measuring Broadband Canada, a new independent testing program that gives Canadians real information on the performance of their Internet provider.  The announcement follows the move by Rogers in 2012 to begin independent testing using global expert SamKnows, the same broadband testing firm announced by the CRTC today.

“This is great news for consumers,” said Robert Goodman, Senior Director of Internet, Rogers Communications.  “We urged our competitors to join us when we began independent testing three years ago so we’re thrilled the CRTC is taking this step forward today.  Canadians deserve the Internet speeds they pay for and more transparency means they can make more informed choices.” 

For the record, I checked the press releases archives for Bell, Teksavvy and Telus for anything similar and I could not find anything.

I find it interesting because I will admit that Rogers has put a lot of time, money and effort into making sure that customers get the speeds that they pay for. And they’re not only not shy about telling the world about it, but they use third parties like SamKnows (Warning: PDF) to back up their claims. Thus they likely see something like this as an opportunity to get another third party to validate how good their Internet service is compared to their competitors. But since it would come from the CRTC, a body that Rogers hasn’t exactly had the best relationship with, it would add extra weight to Rogers claims. And for bonus points, by calling out their competitors for not doing the same, they look like the good guy. This is smart marketing, assuming of course everything goes to plan.

So, will you be participating? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Hey IT Nerd! Does The CRTC Decision On Roaming Mean Lower Prices For Me?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 6, 2015 by itnerd

Here’s a question that I got in my inbox yesterday:

Hello. The CRTC issued a decision to cap roaming rates that Robellus charges smaller wireless carriers. Do you think it will lower rates for me as I am on Wind and I get significant roaming charges on my bill?

Thanks!

Thanks for the question. First, let me post a link to the CRTC decision that came out yesterday that forces Rogers, Bell, and Telus (aka Robellus) to limit how much they charge the Wind Mobile’s of the world for roaming onto their networks. The reason why the CRTC is taking this action is this:

The CRTC has found that there is an insufficient level of competition among the national wireless companies – Bell, Rogers and Telus – in the provision of wholesale roaming services. These companies can maintain rates and impose terms and conditions that would not prevail in a competitive market. Other Canadian wireless companies need to obtain these services under reasonable rates, terms and conditions in order to offer comparable broad or national wireless coverage to their own customers.

As such, the CRTC will regulate the rates that Bell, Rogers and Telus charge other companies for wholesale wireless roaming services. The CRTC has set interim rates for these services effective today, and is requiring the three companies to file final proposed rates by November 4, 2015.

Now, this will not make a difference at all. I’ve said it before and I will say it one more time. If you want to have a lower cell phone bill every month, you need to have real competition. That means that the government needs to encourage a big global telco on the scale of a Vodafone or a Deutsche Telekom to come into Canada, set up their own national infrastructure, and go toe to toe with the big three. That would make your bills drop because you’ll have an option that won’t be pushed around by the big three. Now the CRTC decision from yesterday may save you a few cents here and there, but it is not the game changer that Canada truly needs in the wireless market. After all as the CRTC said, there is an insufficient level of competition among the national wireless companies.

Bell Exec Apologizes For Meddling In The Affairs Of CTV News

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 25, 2015 by itnerd

Bell is a massive telco. They also own a lot of TV stations, some radio stations, and a newspaper. So, you can imagine that when the Globe And Mail which is a paper that Bell owns came out and accused Kevin Crull who is the president of Bell media and is effectively their boss of trying to influence the network’s news coverage of the CRTC decision to cap the price of basic cable as well as make cable companies offer “pick and pay” options for consumers, that got a lot of attention. The accusation is that he called up the head of CTV news and asked her not to run quotes of CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. The CRTC issued a very terse statement. Here’s the key parts of it:

That a regulated company does not like one of the CRTC’s rulings is one thing. The allegation, however, that the largest communication company in Canada is manipulating news coverage is disturbing. Holding a radio or television licence is a privilege that comes with important obligations that are in the public interest, especially in regards to high-quality news coverage and reporting.

And:

We expect Canada’s broadcasters to live up to their responsibilities and adhere to a high standard in their news and information programs.

I do not recall the CRTC ever making a statement like this. I guess that this was enough blowback to make Crull apologize. Here’s part of what he said via the National Post:

“It was wrong of me to be anything but absolutely clear that editorial control always rests with the news team,” Crull said in a statement. “I have apologized to the team directly for this mistake.”

While I am not shocked that this sort of thing has happened, because in this day and age you have to question how independent journalism is, this is a pretty shocking case. I’d love to see the CRTC slap Bell silly over this. But it won’t happen. Instead, Kevin Crull will have to deal with the embarrassment of being caught doing something very wrong by a paper that Bell owns .

Oh, a tip for the reporters who broke this story. You might want to start mass e-mailing your resumes around. Call it a hunch.

CRTC Makes Cable Companies Adopt “Pick & Pay” Option And Caps Basic Cable

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 19, 2015 by itnerd

The CRTC today did something groundbreaking today. Actually they did three things that are groundbreaking. They made the cable companies and anyone else who delivers TV in Canada do the following things:

  1. They made cable companies adopt a “pick and pay” option which means that you can pick only the channels that you want and pay for them. So you don’t have to pick a bundle full of channels you don’t want anymore.
  2. They made cable companies offer a “basic” cable option that can be no more than $25 a month and will consist of local stations and mandatory channels, such as APTN, TVO, CPAC, educational channels and accessibility channels, with the option to include up to four American “affiliate” channels (NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox), plus PBS.
  3. Consumers no longer have to give 30 days notice to dump their current cable company.

That’s all groundbreaking. I have to admit that. But I question if consumers will actually save money. I say that because bundles allow specialty channels to exist because of the fact that they’re force fed to you. Thus because a lot of people get them, you pay less for each channel which means that economy of scale kicks in and it allows them to stay afloat. Take that option away and you may end up paying the real cost what these channels cost. So you may only get the channels you want, but you may pay more. Or the channels that don’t do as well will disappear. Having said that, cable TV costs are insanely expensive in Canada. So you have to try something to see if it will lower costs for consumers. Seeing that cable companies will have until March 2016 to offer the $25 basic package, and December 2016 to offer up “pick and pay”, we’re a long way from getting an answer to that.

File this under “to be continued.”

 

Shomi & CraveTV Could Be Made Available To Any And All Who Want It: CRTC

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on March 16, 2015 by itnerd

I somehow missed this on Friday, but the if you recall, Shomi which is the streaming service run by Rogers and Shaw, and CraveTV which is run by Bell, are only available to those customers. Thus if you’re a Bell customer, you can’t get Shomi for example and Rogers/Shaw customers can’t get CraveTV. This is a strategy that is clearly designed to stop cord cutting or the discontinuation of cable TV service which is a thing these days. Well, the CRTC has popped up and said, that Shomi and CraveTV must be made available to all:

Finally, the CRTC is allowing video-on-demand services to offer exclusive content to cable and satellite subscribers, as long as they are available to all Canadians over the Internet without a television subscription. This will enable Canadian services to compete on a more equal footing with online video services.

So, one could read that and come to the conclusion that it means that Shomi and CraveTV could be forced to be made available to any and all who want it. If you’re Bell, Rogers, and Shaw, that’s got to be downright frightening. You can bet that those three are looking at how they can fight this if and when the CRTC brings down the hammer. Thus I would stay tuned to this story as things are about to get very interesting.

Rogers GameCenter Live Does Not Break The Rules: CRTC

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on March 16, 2015 by itnerd

You might recall that Bell and Telus filed complaints with the CRTC to make the argument that Rogers GameCenter Live app should be made available to any and all who want it and not just to Rogers subscribers. The CRTC came out with a decision on that front which will stir some debate:

The CRTC considers that the programming available on GamePlus is essentially produced for distribution on digital media. As such, it can be offered exclusively and does not constitute an undue preference in favour of Rogers subscribers. In the CRTC’s view, Rogers is in compliance with the established rules.

GameCentre Live is a service operated by Rogers to which all Canadians can subscribe to in order to access National Hockey League games online. GamePlus is a complementary service to GameCentre Live, available online only, and offered exclusively to Rogers subscribers. GamePlus provides access to bonus content, such as replays not available on the traditional television broadcast, exclusive analysis and interviews, and different camera angles.

I have to admit that I did not see this decision coming out the way that it has. I’m guessing that lawyers for Bell and Telus are looking at this to see if they can do anything about this as I am sure that they will find that this decision is unfair.

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