Telecom Review Panel - Canada Finally Gets it Right!

Today had all the markings of a landmark event in the Canadian communications marketplace. The much anticipated Telecom Review Panel report was issued today, and from all indications, they get it. If adopted, Canada could well serve as the model for others to follow in making sure the broadband revolution succeeds. Anyone following my blog would know this is a new tune for Canada, and one I think we'd all like to see. It's major step forward from the existing policies which were crafted way back in 1993 in the Telecommunications Act. Go Canada!

I'm only going to comment about this at a high level, and let the links fill in the detail for those who wish to better understand what this is all about.

First, it must be noted that the TRP is simply issuing their findings and recommendations. It's a great blueprint, but it will take some time for our government to sort this all out and put things into law. This won't happen overnight simply because the proposed changes are profound, and call for a new order that's compatible with the realities of today's Internet/IP world. Furthermore, we have a new government in office and their views are quite different from the Liberals who preceded them. That said, the PC party leans more towards free markets, and are more likely to support the gist of what the TRP is proposing.

Second - the good news is the overarching message of the report - let market forces rule. Wow. It's almost like Michael Powell helped write the report. What a novel idea! Needless to say, the ILECs love it. I couldn't make Bell's analyst call this morning, but the gist of it is in their press release. It's not very compelling copy, but you can be sure Mr. Sabia and Mr. Entwistle are quite pleased. The regulatory shackles could soon come off, and that could open things up considerably. Of course the age-old issues about fair competition are still there, but with the right measures and policies (i.e. the proposed Telecommunications Competition Tribunal), this could be a huge boost for mass market adoption. Combine this with recommendations for tax incentives for companies to adopt IP, and a policy to create ubiquitous broadband by 2010, and you've got the right drivers in place to make things really go.

Many other interesting issues came out of the 400 page report and its 100+ recommendations, and there's too much to address here. Key items include:

- encouraging more facilities-based competition
- easing foreign ownership restrictions
- dramatically overhauling the CRTC and redefining its role
- extending these policies to the broadcasting sector
- noting the realities of trying to introduce more competitors to our mobility market

All the right things you'd want an updated review to address. For further reading, I'm going to steer you to a few sources...

First, is Mark Goldberg, a veteran telecom consultant here in Toronto. I'm citing Mark first because he recently started blogging and I just came across his site - Telecom Trends - via Mark Evans. So, welcome to the IP blogosphere Mark! He's had a few postings about the report today and last night, and you can read them here.

Next up is Mr. Evans himself. His blog has been pretty quiet on this front, but he was good enough to post a link to his print coverage in today's National Post.

Sarah Lysecki of ITBusiness. Hat tip to Rob Hyndman on this one.

Finally, Jeff Fan of UBS Securities issued a research note today on the report. I can pass along the pdf if you're interested - just let me know. Jeff will be speaking along with me at the VON Canada Analyst Roundtable, and you can be sure we'll be touching on this topic there! Ditto for the Bloggers Syndicate session that I'll be moderating at the show.