CRTC gives in

After being pestered by several carriers, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommmunications Commission has decided to extend the process to create new rules for Internet telephony. Rather than an April 28 deadline for submissions, the CRTC will now give interested parties – mostly incumbents carriers – until June 18. A two-day discussion session will be held in September, rather than May. This decision makes total sense given the political, technical and business issues to be addressed. It seems, however, the CRTC has already made up its mind to regulate VOIP in the same way as circuit-switch technology – even though VOIP could transform the industry and leave incumbent carriers behind if they are shackled with old rules while new rivals are unregulated.
For the CRTC, this is just another example of how it tries to pull off the delicate balancing act of promoting competition AND regulating a market that is becoming increasingly difficult to oversee as IP technology lets service providers to deliver products to Canadians from anywhere in the world. At a recent conference in Cambridge, Ont. where the who's who of the Canadian telecom industry gathered – the media weren't allowed to attend – the overwhelming sentiment was a mounting sense of frustration with the CRTC about its lack of vision. This halestorm might have had more to do with the fact CRTC chair Charles Dalfen had to cancel his keynote speech due to personal reasons but it is also a sign that no matter what the CRTC does these days, they are going to piss someone off.

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