CRTC Told to Re-Think Their VoIP Decision

I hate to sound like a broken record, but here we go again! In the never-ending yo-yo of Canadian regulatory rulings, the CRTC is now being told by the Federal Cabinet to go back and re-think their VoIP decision from last May. In short, it sounds like they are taking to heart the recommendations of the Telecom Policy Review that came out in March, which any fan of IP would have been happy with.

Needless to say, the incumbents like Bell and Telus were happy. It�s interesting to note that just like the RBOCs are largely getting their way with the FCC in the US, it�s looking more like that�s the case in Canada as well. This is exactly what the ILECs want to hear, as they can now watch the CRTC squirm and possibly � likely � go back on their word and let market forces rule.

If this does, in fact, come to pass, I know Jeff Pulver will be smiling. He was the lone American invited to come up and make a submission during the CRTC�s VoIP public hearings back in September 2004. His message was not well received, but for IP advocates such as myself, it was a message they needed to hear. For those of you who want to step into the time machine, you can review his submission here.

In short, Jeff's position was that the U.S. experiment of letting market forces rule was creating a highly competitive, innovative market, that in turn was driving rapid adoption of VoIP. I would argue that neither has really been the case in Canada. Sure, it�s different up here, but I think the playing field should be level, and we just might see that now.

And we just might see the kind of changes for the CRTC that the TPR has been advocating. Don�t get me wrong, the CRTC has a very hard job, and on the whole, they strike a good balance among the competing interests of free enterprise, good government, and well-served consumers. But their mandate and purpose needs re-thinking, at least as it pertains to the Internet world, which is quickly becoming about everything.