Canadian Telecom Summit 2018

Monday, June 4 is the start of this year’s Canadian Telecom Summit to be held at the Toronto Congress Centre. This is the 17th Canadian Telecom Summit (CTS). I have been blessed to have attended each of these events, put on by two friends of mine Michael Sone and Mark Goldberg.

CTS was originally formed to replace the CBTA (Canadian Business Telecom Alliance) show that used to be held annually in Toronto. The first CTS coincided with the 10th anniversary of CRTC decision 92-12, which opened up Competition in the Canadian Long Distance industry. My own career in telecom was forged at competitive telecom providers like CNCP Telecommunications and ACC TeleEnterprises and Decision 92-12 was a milestone. Liberalization and deregulation of telecommunications around the world made the telecommunications sector an exciting place to work back in the ‘90s and 2000’s. (PS see my book reviews here for some books that chronicle those adventurous times)

CTS is a chance for the Canadian telecommunications industry to come together; for networking for sure, but also for thought provoking interaction. Over the years we have seen many announcements, both government policy and from industry, some discussions and heated arguments and some entertaining regulatory panel discussions (for us policy wonks).

This year the theme is “Innovation and Disruption in ICT: reinventing and securing our business and personal lives”. There has been much innovation and disruption in telecom throughout my career and the span of AurorA’s 24 years in business. Competition from Silicon Valley players like Google, Apple, Netflix and Microsoft have radically changed the industry. New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the introduction of 5G networks and the continued rollout of the Internet of Things (IOT) promise even more innovation and disruption.

This year I will be trying something new by blogging from the conference. My goal is to post a summary each night of some of the more significant talks, discussions and events from the Summit that I feel would be relevant to you, my readers, specifically from an international telecom perspective .

Hopefully, I will see you live at the Summit. If not, then check in here next week for my updates from #CTS18 . If there is something specific you would like me to cover then leave a comment below of reach out to me on Twitter at @TimoVainionpaa.

Common Carrier

Since graduating from Engineering at the U of Waterloo, I have been in telecom all of my adult life. I was taught that telecom companies are “common carriers” and are subject to certain rules and regulations that other industries are not.

Simply put, in common law countries like Canada, industries like railways, airlines, pipelines and telecom firms that offer their services to the general public under a licence or authority provided by a regulatory body are common carriers. One of the biggest obligations of a common carrier is non-discrimination. A common carrier cannot discriminate, i.e. refuse the service to some members of the public and not others, or give prejudicial treatment to a favoured few.

Yet, I notice that in this day and age , telecom companies are discriminating, openly and blatantly and violating the principles of common carriage.

One example would be when a telecom company throttles your Internet service, slowing down bit torrent packets or videogame packets. Or when the companies that own the telecom facilities also own the content that rides on them (so called vertical integration). If they hoard that content and do not allow other carriers access to it at reasonable rates then it violates the principles of common carriage.

I would happily pay content providers directly for some content that appeals to me; say HBO or NBA basketball with their League Pass. Unfortunately, that is not allowed; I cant watch the Toronto Raptors on my computer by paying the league directly because the rights holder in Canada insists it be blacked out. They try and force me to purchase their offerings which I have no interest in.

When did we allow this to happen and what should we do about it ?