Canada’s licensing framework for cellular and PCS (personal communication systems) providers is in serious need of an overhaul. A paper released today by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) says these spectrum licences should have strong property right characteristics and the licence fee regime should be amended to provide clarity and certainty.
In Signal Strength: Setting the Stage for Canada’s Wireless Industry in the Next Decade, author Ian Munro explains that this approach will maximize the licensees’ incentives to develop their networks and service offerings, which is a win for all Canadians.
“The foundation for spectrum management, as specified in the Radiocommunication Act, leaves significant discretion in the hands of the Minister of Industry who is legally prohibited from extending certain forms of market certainty to licensees,” explains Munro. “So the existing legislation undermines the concept of a true property-rights approach to spectrum licensing.”
Munro explains that institutional and statutory change is required in order to best serve Canadians. He says the spectrum management program should be transferred to the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as an independent arms-length body.
“The CRTC’s mandate should be revised to incorporate a market- and property-rights based approach to spectrum licensing, pricing, and regulation,” says Munro.
“These issues may seem technical or esoteric to most people, but they are about who can access wireless services and how much we pay,” says AIMS President and CEO Charles Cirtwill. “Simply put, risk raises costs and so the Government of Canada is unnecessarily raising costs and this paper tells them how to stop.”
“In an era when technological advances have changed our lives, we need to push the Government of Canada to keep up with the times so that Canadians can exploit the opportunities provided by the new technologies.”
Cirtwill says the telecommunications industry won’t be able to stay innovative and competitive without the significant changes recommended by Munro in this and previous papers.
To read the complete paper, click here.