I have been in touch with lots of people regarding my previous blog posting, and I’m very impressed to see that a lot of people are indeed aware of the problem, and actively working toward solutions. In fact, Michael Geist, who has been speaking and writing about this for much longer than I have, recently spoke in front of a Senate committee and explained things in very simple, precise manner. Here is a great excerpt (emphasis added by me):
“The truth is that there are ways, if we had unlocked devices and had a more open space, we would encourage this innovation without the gatekeepers that we see. Fundamentally, that is what we see taking place here. Certain gatekeepers exist in the chain; sometimes it is the device manufacturers; often — particularly in Canada — it is the carrier themselves who set limitations on what can come into the marketplace, precisely because it is to their competitive advantage to do so. We do not have enough competition to counteract that at the moment.
Who is to blame? I think there is plenty of blame to go around. We have the CRTC — to be honest — asleep at the switch, particularly on this wireless issue; they have not been involved at all. On net neutrality, for example, a complaint was brought against Bell Canada’s activities. They found for Bell in a manner that just last week was appealed asking for a reconsideration, noting that the CRTC itself has acknowledged in public statements that they may not have had all of the facts. Even when they do get engaged, the perception is that they may be overly cosy with some of the companies that they regulate, so there is ample reason to lay some of the blame at the CRTC.
It is not just the CRTC, however. I think we can blame the Competition Bureau as part of this. It was the bureau that, when we had two providers in the GSM space — Fido and Rogers — allowed a merger of those two services to go ahead, taking away the only competition we had in the GSM space and leaving us with just the one provider.
We can look to governments. This is not a partisan issue because this falls under both the watch of when we had Liberal governments and now, more recently, Conservative governments. In both instances, they let broadband task force reports sit there. There has been no digital strategy for Canada for more than 10 years now, while we see other countries move ahead more aggressively. I think we can look to all of these players to say that they have let us down, quite frankly.
The results are in the independent statistics. You can certainly get lobby groups or association groups to come in and spin the numbers any way they like, but if you take a look at statistics from the independent people — groups such as the OECD that no one will question — the numbers do not lie. We are falling behind other countries, and Canadian consumers know it intuitively. I suspect many of you know it, based on the experience you may have had just last week when you had a chance to compare what they have in Europe to what we have in Canada.”
The full transcript is here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/40/2/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/tran-e/47244-e.htm?Language=E&Parl=40&Ses=2&comm_id=19
Keep it up everyone. We have a lot of work to do to reverse the damage done over the past decade!