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Archived - Opening remarks by Jean-Pierre Blais at the public hearing on the review of wholesale wireline services

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Gatineau, Quebec
November 24, 2014

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

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Good morning and welcome to this public hearing.

During this hearing, the Commission will examine wholesale wireline telecommunications services in Canada.

This is the third of three major hearings that the Commission is holding this fall. In early September, we held a hearing on the future of television in Canada. Shortly after that, we examined the wholesale wireless mobile services market in Canada. The thread that runs through these three proceedings is choice and sustainable competition.

The Commission is reviewing its frameworks with its eyes firmly fixed on the future. We are seeking to ensure that Canadians are able to benefit from a world-class communication system for years to come. One in which they have access to compelling content, as well as the choice of innovative wireless services and Internet services, wherever they live in Canada.

Wholesale telecommunications services

What are wholesale telecommunications services? In Canada, large cable companies and incumbent telephone companies must provide certain telecommunications services on a wholesale basis to their competitors. These services are offered under rates, terms and conditions that are approved by the CRTC.

We require that the companies make certain parts of their networks available to competitors to encourage greater competition in the both the residential and business marketplaces. This benefits Canadians through a greater choice of telecommunications services, more product features and affordable prices.

Certain wholesale services also provide important social benefits to Canadians, such as 9-1-1 emergency services and message relay services.

Over the years, the CRTC has either mandated or deregulated a number of wholesale telecommunications services. At this hearing, we will review the services that ought to be regulated or not, as well as whether currently unregulated services ought to be regulated, as some parties have asked. In addition, we will examine newer services where there is currently no obligation for companies to provide access to them.

We are conducting this review to determine what measures should be taken at the wholesale level to encourage more choice, investment and sustainable competition.

Internet services

For example, some companies have been investing in their networks to bring fibre closer and closer to the homes of Canadians. This enables the companies to offer advanced capabilities including faster Internet services and advanced television services.

We will consider the current state of deployment of fibre-optic facilities, the economic and social impacts of this technology and the required network investments. This will help us decide, for instance, whether independent Internet service providers should have mandated access to these facilities.

We will also look at whether our current policies strike an appropriate balance between sustainable competition and sufficient incentives to invest in networks by both the incumbents and competitors.

This will be an important discussion as Canadians are making greater use of their Internet services to participate in the digital economy. More than 65% of Canadians subscribe to download speeds of at least 5 megabits per second, and the amount of data they download jumped by 150% in just two years, from 2011 to 2013.

Focus of this hearing

During this hearing, the panel intends to focus its questioning on three key themes for this proceeding.

  1. Whether changes should be made to the CRTC’s framework for wholesale telecommunications services.
  2. What considerations the Commission should take into account when making its decision whether or not to: (a) require the provision of wholesale telecommunications services, including fibre-to-the-premises; (b) step back from regulating services; or (c) re-assert its jurisdiction to regulate services that have been deregulated.
  3. Whether changes should be made to the CRTC’s approach for setting wholesale rates, the underlying principles, or the associated processes, in order to improve the timeliness, accuracy or consistency of the rate-setting exercise.

Public participation

Before we begin, I would like to thank everyone who has participated in this process, either by submitting comments or by appearing before us. We would not be able to fulfill our legislative responsibilities without your views and participation.

All comments will be taken into consideration as we make our decisions.


Finally, I would like to provide a few introductions.

The panel for this hearing consists of:

  • Peter Menzies, Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications
  • Tom Pentefountas, Vice-Chairman of Broadcasting
  • Candice Molnar, Regional Commissioner for Manitoba and Saskatchewan
  • Raj Shoan, Regional Commissioner for Ontario
  • and myself, Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. I will be presiding over this hearing.

The Commission team assisting us includes:

  • Lyne Renaud and Philippe Kent, Hearing Co-Managers
  • Eric Bowles and Valérie Dionne, Legal Counsel, and
  • Lynda Roy, Hearing Secretary.

I would now invite the Hearing Secretary to explain the procedures we will be following.

Madam Secretary…

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