Canadian Independent ISPs Get Access to Incumbent's Fibre Networks

The CRTC ruled on Wednesday that incumbent last-mile Internet providers such as Bell and Rogers must open up their fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) networks to independents.

Internet and IPTV providers such as Teksavvy and VMedia appeared at the hearings in Gatineau last fall to plead their case, and it appears that once again the CRTC ruled against the incumbents and in favour of consumers and smaller competitors. Read on for additional information on how this will affect Canadian Internet and TV in the future.


CBC Article on FTTH Exclusivity

When a CBC producer asked for volunteers to talk about their Fibre To The Home (FTTH) experience on the DSLReports.com web forum, I figured they'd have several takers. Apparently they didn't, since they sent reporter Aaron Saltzman and a cameraman to visit me last week and get feedback on my experience with FTTH so far. Read on for more background on the story.


AlphaBeatic Interview with VMedia

Peter Nowak's AlphaBeatic blog (one of my favourites) has a great interview with George Burger of VMedia - one of the new TV providers that is trying its best to give customers what they really want.

The interview is online at VMedia: the template for the CRTC’s new TV universe and includes quotes like the following that illustrate why the CRTC sometimes has to step in and protect us from the large vertically integrated companies that control cable & satellite, TV stations, Internet access, wireless service, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines in this country:

In Canada, close to 90 per cent of the channels are concentrated in the hands of four companies. 
They happen to have a gigantic interest in controlling those channels to drive their larger business. They don’t wake up in the morning thinking, ‘I don’t have VMedia as a customer yet, I want to get VMedia as a customer.’ They wake up in the morning and think, ‘I wish VMedia wasn’t around, because then their customers would be my customers.’
If you still aren't convinced that vertical integration is a problem in Canada, read this article from the Globe and Mail: Bell head meddled in news coverage.


Pick-and-Pay With Cheaper Basic TV Is Coming... Next Year

Last Thursday the CRTC released its much anticipated ruling on the bundling of TV channels and minimum subscription pricing. During the "Let's Talk TV" hearings last fall they heard from all of the stakeholders: ordinary citizens, content producers (TV channels, production studios), broadcast distributors (cable and satellite companies), Internet companies, streaming video companies, the cultural community, and special-interest groups.

Most of those who appeared before the commission were in favour of changes to the status quo, but as you can imagine there were a lot of conflicting opinions on what those changes should be. Read on to see how Thursday's announcement will impact your cable or satellite bill over the next few years.


CRTC "Talk TV" Decision #2 - Good For Cord Cutters?

Last Thursday the CRTC announced more changes as a result of the "Talk TV" hearings held last fall. This time around they addressed Canadian content rules, streaming services, and specialty channels. The full CRTC policy paper is available online as is the text of chairman Blais' speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa in which he covered some of the highlights.

Last week's ruling was important to cord cutters mainly because it clarified how Canadian streaming services fit into the regulatory regime. Read on for details.


Over-The-Air is here to stay... for now.

The first set of CRTC rulings from the "Let's Talk TV" hearings held in Gatineau QC last September were announced on Thursday, and the consumer comes out the winner in all of them. For cord cutters, the most significant ruling was that local TV stations are not allowed to shut down their over-the-air transmitters without significant consequences.


CBC coverage of upcoming CRTC "Let's Talk TV" hearings

CBC radio in Calgary has been covering some of the topics that will be up for discussion when the CRTC's "Let's Talk TV" hearings begin in Gatineau QC on Monday September 8th.

CBC business reporter Tracy Johnson tried to get input from as many of the stakeholders as possible: the CRTC, artists, content producers, television channel operators, television distributors, and of course, consumers.

Tracy interviewed me via a Google Hangouts call back on August 20th, just a day before the CRTC released its "working document for discussion" intended to serve as a reference point in the hearings. As a cord cutter I realize that I'm not a typical TV consumer, but hopefully the points I made about ever increasing costs and lack of choice ring true.

The radio sessions are available on the CBC web site at the following URLs:

A print article on the topic of pick-and-pay was published on the CBC web site on September 2nd and an article about speciality channels on the 4th:

If you want to add your voice to the discussion, you have until September 19th to submit comments via the CRTC web site. Visit the page "Help Shape the Future of TV in Canada", register with the CRTC if you haven't already, then select one of the three categories and enter your thoughts.