Cybera’s Case to the Telecommunications Legislative Review

Last week, Cybera submitted a brief to the federal government’s Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel. The panel has been tasked with reviewing Canada’s communication legislative framework in the digital age, focusing on issues of content creation, net neutrality and cultural diversity, and how to strengthen the future of Canadian media. We would like to thank Innovation, Science and Economic Development for the opportunity to provide comments on this important undertaking.

In our submission, we proposed that the most important policy goal should be to close Canada’s digital divide. We also believe First Nations’ connectivity needs to be at the forefront of any new telecommunications legislative framework. To do so, Cybera recommended steps to increase competition, including revisiting facilities-based competition and fostering an open-access network model.

With respect to regulatory policy and governance, we underscored the importance of refocusing rural, remote and First Nations connectivity to be at the centre point of all decision making. As well, we think it is vitally important to split up the broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory authorities, to improve efficiency, coherency and public trust when it comes to telecommunications infrastructure and service provision.

Our recommendations to the panel included:

  • Reference First Nations, rural and remote connectivity specifically within any Telecommunication Act’s policy objectives

  • Revisit facilities-based competition and support open-access network models

  • Pursue a multi-stakeholder approach with respect to municipal consultations

  • Reject proposals to delegate regulatory authority of utility structures to the CRTC, unless a federal-provincial task force studying its effects on consumer costs can be implemented

  • Rely on local, community driven solutions to First Nations’ 5G deployment, and incorporate such initiatives into spectrum auctioning regulations

  • Enshrine affordable open access solutions within any new legislation

  • Repeal Section 16(2)(a) of the Telecommunications Act — restrictions to foreign ownership

  • Retain and strengthen existing net neutrality rules in legislation

  • Turn over spectrum regulation to the CRTC

  • Clarify the relationship between the CRTC and the Competition Bureau

  • Separate authority of broadcasting and carriage to two separate regulatory bodies

  • Strengthen safeguards against conflicts of interest and regulatory capture (i.e. when industry leaders are given positions of power in regulatory bodies)

  • Improve access to information for all stakeholders

Our full report can be downloaded here.

The federal panel will be evaluating the thousands of submissions it received over the coming months, and will publish a “What We've Heard” report by June 30, 2019. You can follow the progress of this panel on the Government of Canada’s website.