What is “Telecommunications”?

Telecommunications:

  • is an electronic, two-way communication, usually at a distance
  • includes wireless (cellphones, tablets) and wireline telephone and internet services
  • is different from broadcasting, which simply sends the message one way
  • has been a special policy and legal area and has been carefully regulated in Canada since 1905
  • has its own law, the Telecommunications Act.

The Role of the CRTC
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is the federal body that administers most telecommunications law in Canada. It creates, maintains and enforces rules that govern the activities of telecommunications companies within Canadian markets. The CRTC also monitors the telecommunications industry and collects fees from telecommunications companies in Canada to fund itself.

The Role of Industry Canada
The Department of Industry (Industry Canada) regulates some aspects of telecommunications in Canada and is ultimately responsible for telecommunications policy. For example, Industry Canada sets the rules for the use of radio spectrum that telecommunications providers use to deliver wireless phone services.

Deregulation of the Telecommunications Industry
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, market liberalization, increased competition and neoliberal economic theory led to a decrease in regulation in the telecommunications market. Many rules limiting price increases and requiring particular service levels were removed.

PIAC’s Role
PIAC advocates for consumers and public interest groups before the CRTC, working with Industry Canada and the Competition Bureau of Canada to protect the public interest. We promote consumers’ and customers’ interests – particularly vulnerable segments of the public – to achieve fairness in the telecommunications industry.

Our advocacy includes presentations to the CRTC and participation in selected competitive disputes between telecommunications providers and all CRTC “regulatory framework” proceedings to ensure that the public interest is considered first, and the rules are fair for all.

Our work is important and unique because it is expert, dedicated and because the regulatory rules have become more legally complex and policy-driven.

To learn more about our telecommunications advocacy, visit our telecom advocacy/submissions page.

If you have a particular problem with a telecommunications service, we may be able to point you in the right direction. Helpful links: CCTS, CRTC, OPC

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