The 2014 federal budget,
introduced on February 11, 2014, included several items of interest
to the telecommunications industry, including plans for revisions
to the regulatory framework for wireless services and a commitment
of federal funding to extend and enhance the access to high-speed
broadband networks in rural and Northern communities.
As part of its "consumers first" strategy, the
government has proposed, in its Economic Action Plan 2014, a
number of measures intended to strengthen competition in the
telecommunications market. Notably, the new budget builds on an earlier announcement of
plans to amend the Telecommunications Act to cap wholesale
domestic wireless roaming rates, at least until such time as the
CRTC, which is currently examining the issue, makes a
decision respecting such roaming rates.
The budget also disclosed the government's intention to beef
up the enforcement tools available to the regulators of the
wireless sector. It was announced that amendments will be proposed
to both the Telecommunications
Act and the Radiocommunication Act,
which will provide the CRTC and Industry Canada, respectively, with
the power to impose "administrative monetary penalties"
on companies that violate regulatory requirements, such as
adherence to the newly in force Wireless Code, and rules
requiring deployment of spectrum resources, extension of service to
rural areas and tower sharing with other carriers. Administrative
monetary penalties are already available to the CRTC with respect
to telemarketing violations, and will soon be available for
violations of Canada's new anti-spam law.
The government also announced plans to clarify prohibitions
against violating spectrum auction rules, as well as prohibitions
against the manufacture, sale or use of jamming devices. Other
planned amendments would streamline the certification process for
Further planned amendments to the Telecommunications
Act would provide the CRTC with the authority to directly
impose conditions of operation on non-carriers (such as resellers).
Currently, the Commission imposes such obligations indirectly, by
requiring regulated carriers to include specified terms in their
agreements with non-facilities based telecommunications
None of the proposed amendments have yet been introduced into
Parliament. Based on recent government practice, such amendments
might well be included in an omnibus budget implementation
In addition to proposed changes to the regulatory framework for
wireless services, the budget announcement also indicated that the
government will provide $305 million over 5 years to extend and
enhance broadband service to rural and Northern communities, to a
target speed of 5 Megabits per second. The funding could mean
enhanced service for up to 280,000 Canadian households. Further
details about the new funding program are to be released in the
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Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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