Almost one year ago today (357 days ago to be exact), Tim Denton and I participated in the CRTC review of mobile wireless services on behalf of the Internet Society, Canada Chapter. A lot has happened in the last 357 days - a global pandemic went into full swing, the first ever vaccine for a coronavirus in humans was developed, and distribution started. What didn't happen was a CRTC decision on wholesale access to mobile wireless services.
It's not just big issues like MVNOs that take the CRTC a long time to resolve. Even small issues, such as Telecom Decision CRTC 2020-91, which followed a request made on February of 2018 from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF), in which they sought clarification and enforcement of the Wireless Code with respect to the retention of prepaid balances for Rogers wireless service customers. Is 769 days a reasonable amount of time for an issue as simple as how to interpret the existing CRTC Wireless Code reasonable? I'm not saying the issue raised by PIAC wasn't a serious one, but the issues raised in the application were not of such grave concern to the future of Canadian telecom that it required two years of contemplative thought to decide. An application like this should have been decided in a matter of weeks, not years.
In 2011 the CRTC defined its own service level objectives for responding to applications, setting various targets for different application types. One of the metrics it defined, and it reports on, is a target to respond to Part One applications. The target it set in 2011 was to respond to a Part One application within 4 months from the close of record. If we look at the CRTC performance measurement reports for the past seven years, ending in March 2020 (before the world was shutdown by a pandemic), the picture isn't good.
Looking at the last CRTC fiscal year, from April 2019 to March 2020, the CRTC received 39 Part One applications, and only responded to 12 of them, or 31% within its service level objective of 4 months from the close of record. These are decisions Canadian carriers, advocacy groups, consumers, and other interested parties rely upon to see serious issues addressed. Applicants can't be left waiting indefinitely in limbo while these decisions are made - we need to hold the CRTC accountable to the objectives it set for itself. In the public sector if a business was only hitting its targets 31% of the time it would be considered a colossal failure and we shouldn't treat the CRTC any differently.
I could wax on about all the CRTC processes that have taken too long, or been delayed endlessly with appeals but I think the point is clear. The speed at which the CRTC is operating is failing both the Canadian Telecommunications industry and Canadians as a whole. We don't need regulation at sloth speed, we need a regulator who will live up to its own standards and issue decisions in a just and timely manner.