The Economic Impact Of The New Telecommunications — страница 2

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legislation that regulated telecommunications, the Railway Act, dated back to 1908 (Beatty, 1990, p135). Clearly, with such “ancient” legislation, new policy was required that would allow a more flexible regulatory system, and not hamper the development of our telecommunications industry (as the Railway Act did). The first steps toward such a policy were taken in 1987 by the Minister of Communications, who outlined three basic principles to guide telecommunications policy making: Maintaining a basic telephone service which is affordable and universally accessible; Encouraging development of an effective and efficient telecommunications infrastructure; and Permitting Canadians in all regions to have access to the same levels of competitive services (Beatty, 1990, p42). Bill

C-62 – the Telecom Act, passed in June of 1993, brought these principals to reality. In addition, the legislation gave Canadian Parliament legislative authority over the principal telecommunications “common carriers” (i.e. Bell Canada, Alberta Gov’t Telephone, BC-Tel) in Canada. The new legislation defines the powers of the federal government and the regulation that is required to bring Canada’s telecommunications policy into the twenty-first century. It ensures the efficient operation of our telecommunications system, maintains and promotes and internationally competitive telecommunications industry, and guarantees all Canadians access to reliable, affordable, and high-quality services. In order to achieve this, the new law centres on two major principals: the first is

to open the telecommunications market by having a workable policy for the whole country under the guidance of a single regulatory agency (i.e. the CRTC); the second is to establish a more flexible regulatory framework. The new legislation modernizes and improves the existing system in three ways: 1.By updating and modernizing existing legislation that governs telecommunications. Namely, the Railway Act, the National Telecommunications Powers and Procedures Act, and the Telegraphs Act. 2.By making a single agency responsible for regulating telecommunications, and 3.By ensuring consistent conditions in regards to access to facilities, local and long-distance rates, and introduction of competition for providing telecommunications services across the country (Beatty, 1990, p42). In

addition, the legislation resulted in the creation of a more open domestic market so that all Canadians will have access to relatively high- quality services, regardless of where they live. Advances in telecommunications technology enable companies to offer a wide variety of new services to satisfy the needs and interests of consumers. One of the goals on the legislation is to ensure that all Canadians benefit from innovations in communications. In addition to promoting the economic benefits of telecommunications technology, the legislation also tackles the social needs and interests of users. The legislation also contains measures to protect consumers against possible abuse, including the sending of unsolicited information by telephone or fax machine (Beatty, 1990, p66). The

Telecom Act gives the government the power to issue licenses to Canadian telecommunications companies and to set standards for equipment and facilities. In order to be eligible to hold a telecommunications license, the company ,must meet specific requirements respecting Canadian ownership and control. A main requirement is that 80 percent of the companies shares must be owned and controlled by Canadians (Angus, 1993, p17). The legislation, and related regulations, therefore promote Canadian control over the country’s information infrastructure. As well as this, the new legislation ensures that telecommunications policy takes into account the interests of the regions and provinces. Given the fundamental role of communications in Canadian society, and the vital importance of this

sector in the Canadian economy, deregulation (or more accurately, easier regulation) of the telecom market will ensure that the Canadian telecommunications industry can successfully meet the challenges of the coming decades. By promoting the establishment of a more open telecommunications market, deregulation will contribute to improving Canada’s competitiveness, which is essential to the country’s prosperity and well-being. Telecommunications is the country’s leading high-technology industry (Dept. of Communications, 1992, p1). It is one of the few industries in which Canada is a world leader, and it provides an essential infrastructure for Canadian businesses. The economic importance of this sector has been proved, and the deregulation of telecommunications recognizes the