1601 Telesat Court
November 9, 1998
Mr. Ronald Amero, P.Eng.
Director, Space and International Regulatory Activity
Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Regulatory Branch
300 Slater Street
Ottawa ON KlA 0C8
Re: Canada Gazette Notice No. DGTP-1-98 Proposed Amendment to the Policy for the Provision of Mobile Satellite Services
Telesat Canada and TMI Communications and Company, Limited Partnership, (collectively, "the Companies") are pleased to submit these joint comments in response to the above-referenced Canada Gazette Notice published on October 10, 1998, concerning proposed revisions to the Radiocommunication Regulations. These revisions relate to the eligibility of foreign service providers to offer mobile and fixed satellite service. The Companies applaud the Department's attempts to implement all of Canada's commitments to the WTO Agreement on basic telecommunications services in a prompt and efficient manner. Proceeding in this manner provides clarity for all service providers and facility operators affected by the policy and ensures Canadian customers will have timely access to competitive choices.
With the present Gazette Notice, the Department has put forth amendments to the Regulations that would allow a service provider that is not Canadian-owned and controlled to be eligible to hold an earth station licence in the fixed satellite service and the mobile satellite service. In the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement associated with the proposed amendments, the Department indicates that there is no alternative to the amendments as it is "an enabling regulation required to meet Canada's trade commitments". As will be described below, however, the amendments appear to go beyond what is required by Canada's trade commitments under the WTO Agreement.
The resolve demonstrated by the Government of Canada to meet its commitments, as well as that reflected in the CRTC's recent decision relating to the liberalization of switched hubbing of Canadian international services through other countries, appears to contrast sharply with the situation in the United States, where Telesat's and TMI's efforts to gain access to U.S. market liberalization commitment have to date been largely frustrated by time-consuming, costly and burdensome procedural wrangling. Not only are Telesat and TMI adversely impacted by such needless delays, but also potential North American customers are being denied the benefits of competitive choice.
In light of the speed with which Industry Canada is moving to open the Canadian market, the Companies note that the Department has not indicated what procedures it intends to follow to solicit public input concerning applications by service providers. Telesat and TMI would suggest that the Department consider issuing some form of Public Notice in instances where an earth station licensing application involves new service applications or raises other potentially significant public policy concerns (e.g., anti competitive concerns). In such instances, public comment would be prudent to better ensure that all such issues are clearly identified and fully considered.
It is noted that the Department's proposed further liberalization of the earth station licensing regime as it applies to mobile satellite service is not expressly contemplated under Canada's WTO commitment. In particular, the language of Canada's Schedule of Specific Commitments refers only to "Canadian service providers" being allowed to access Canadian or foreign owned mobile satellite systems. The proposed regulations would remove this foreign ownership restriction. While the Companies do not oppose the proposed amendment as it relates to this service, it is to be hoped that these prompt and efficient market liberalizing commitments will be mirrored in other jurisdictions where Canadian entities may have an interest in offering service.
Telesat and TMI would again like to thank the Department for encouraging public comment on these important matters. Should the Department require any further assistance in its deliberations on these matters, the Companies would be pleased to respond in any way that they can.
Paul D. Bush
Vice President – Corporate Development, Telesat Canada
Vice President – Engineering, TMI Communications
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