Government’s policy direction for CRTC met with hope, skepticism

The new policy focuses on wholesale internet, competition in the wireless mobile market and service reliability


The CIRA is praising the government for its recent policy direction for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Directions from Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) focus on various topics, including offering affordable wholesale internet rates and increasing competition in the mobile wireless market.

CIRA, the organization responsible for managing the .ca domain, is commeding the government for telling the CRTC to focus on internet performance testing and results sharing.

“This new direction will guide and challenge the CRTC in a renewed focus on building a trusted internet–a mission at the core of CIRA’s work,” Byron Holland, CIRA’s president, said in a press release.

The Competitive Network Operators of Canada (CNOC) also responded with positivity. The organization advocates for competitive internet and telecom services. Geoff White, CNOC’s executive director and general counsel told Cartt.ca he’s happy the government didn’t “water down” the direction.

However, some hesitation exists. “…It’s important that the Minister and the CRTC take action urgently because there is a mass extinction event happening in the Canadian telecom sector, with smaller, independent operators struggling under years of a broken competitive framework,” he told the publication.

Open Media, which also advocates for affordable and accessible internet, said the policy is “too little, too late.”

While the organization agrees with the “bigger picture,” it says questions on topic related to the policy direction remain, including whether Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne will approve the Rogers-Shaw merger. “If Champagne greenlights that deal, he’ll be taking back the new competition gains and then some,” Matt Hatfield, OpenMedia’s campaigns director, said.

CRTC Chair Vicky Eatrides said the direction “complements” the Commission’s ongoing work in several areas, including increasing competition. “The CRTC will also continue to enhance and protect the rights of Canadians when it comes to telecommunications services.”

Updated 21/02/2023 10:31am ET: The article has been updated with a statement from CRTC Chair Vicky Eatrides.

Sources: CIRA, Cartt.ca, Open Media