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DOC-506 High-Stakes Year for Canadian Wireless Industry

Industry Canada finalizing rules to put more wireless spectrum in play
2013 promises to be an exciting year for the Canadian wireless industry.
In our previous article for InfoTelecom #4, we wrote about the new Chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the regulator of Canada's telecommunications system and how the CRTC is intensifying its focus on consumer issues. At the time of this edition's article, the CRTC is holding public hearings into a national set of rules governing all wireless contracts, likely drawing on hundreds, if not thousands of submissions solicited from the public. This is a major step for the CRTC, which had previously taken a very ‘hands-off' approach to wireless services, leaving market forces and competition to guide the industry's growth. In an interesting development, Canada's competition regulator has also weighed in before the CRTC, suggesting that even more scrutiny is in the offing.
Similar to the CRTC and its new ‘three pillars' approach (create, connect and protect), the CRTC's regulatory counterpart responsible for radio spectrum - Industry Canada - has stated that it will be making key decisions about upcoming spectrum auctions with a view to sustained competition, investment and innovation in the interests of consumers and businesses across Canada. Industry Canada is well down the road on several processes intended to put more radio spectrum – the airwaves we rely on constantly for broadcasting, satellite, wireless voice and data services, and even garage door openers - into the hands of Canadian wireless service providers.
Things to look for from Industry Canada in 2013 include:
  • Final details about the hotly-contested licensing framework for the highlyanticipated 700 MHz spectrum auction, as well as the auction itself;
  • Final details about the licensing framework for the 2500 MHz auction (to happen in 2014); and
  • Technical details on the use of TV White Spaces (former TV broadcast spectrum) for unlicensed fixed wireless and mobile wireless use.
In this article, we look at some of these Industry Canada initiatives under way. First, though, we give a basic overview of the how spectrum – the lifeblood of everyday communications – is used and regulated.
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