Interventions Phase 2: Concordia University’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science (Intervenor 781)

Document Name: 2015-134.227373.2538261.Interventions Phase 2(1$#j901!).html

The CRTC plays an important role in making informed decisions about the many pressing questions regarding the proper regulation of telecommunications in Canada. In order for an informed decision to be made, it is important that the CRTC elicit feedback from the public in productive and reliable ways that reflect the variety of ways in which people stand to be affected by these decisions. As experts in such issues, we can help decision-makers to build a more detailed and nuanced context as part of the consultative process with the public. There is as much at stake in how decisions about the future of telecommunications in Canada get decided as there is in what is decided. Many of these issues may not be immediately obvious. Knowledge about the technical complexity of the massive telecommunications infrastructure in Canada and the cutting edge technologies that are shaping it, are crucial to an informed public deliberation. So too are the litany of the fundamental political questions that such technologies give birth to. Raisons pour comparaitre / Reasons for appearanceRecent experiences in the US with FCC regulations about net neutrality, as well as highly publicized public backlash surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (Preventing **** Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA), show that the public is not only informed about such issues, but often have well formulated beliefs and desires about the future of the internet with regard to these issues. As ****-Pierre ****, the Chairman and CEO of the CRTC indicates,“As we look to the future of Canada’s telecommunications needs, we are interested in hearing the views of Canadians from across the country, and especially those who do not have access to the technology they need in this digital era. In order to fully participate in the digital economy, Canadians need reliable, affordable and modern telecommunications services. Wherever you live in Canada, from St. John’s to Prince **** to Moose Jaw to Iqaluit, we want to hear from you.” Concordia University’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science is uniquely situated to provide a public platform for these beliefs and desires to be discussed, deliberated, and well-formulated. As an institution of higher learning, our community benefits from excellent broadband internet service provided by the Réseau d’informations scientifiques du Québec (RISQ), a non-profit organization that provides high capacity network services to all research and education institutions in Quebec. Through its membership, the university has maintained access to top quality access and speed since the organization introduced internet network connectivity to the province about 25 years ago. RISQ plans to increase capacity in order to continue to meet growing demand for resources to support teaching and research for years to come. As academics with direct links to both the technical complexities of the questions raised by the CRTC, as well as their impacts on society, The Centre for Engineering in Society in our Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science is uniquely situated to participate in the conversation between the CRTC and the public on the telecommunications services they need to participate in the digital economy. The CRTC plays an important role in making informed decisions about the many pressing questions regarding the proper regulation of telecommunications in Canada. In order for an informed decision to be made, it is important that the CRTC elicit feedback from the public in productive and reliable ways that reflect the variety of ways in which people stand to be affected by these decisions. As experts in such issues, we can help decision-makers to build a more detailed and nuanced context as part of the consultative process with the public. There is as much at stake in how decisions about the future of telecommunications in Canada get decided as there is in what is decided. Many of these issues may not be immediately obvious. Knowledge about the technical complexity of the massive telecommunications infrastructure in Canada and the cutting edge technologies that are shaping it, are crucial to an informed public deliberation. So too are the litany of the fundamental political questions that such technologies give birth to. Is treating internet providers like utilities the best way to preserve a free and open internet (net neutrality)?Do ISPs have the right to block access to some content on the internet?Do concerns around government control of the internet (such as in places like China, Russia, or **** Korea) relate to treating ISPs as utilities?Is a tiered internet access system fair to lower socioeconomic internet users?What is the best way to expand internet access into areas that have little or no high-speed access? Are free market forces an effective solution to equal access?Does treating ISPs like utilities disincentivize investment into these areas? What effect would turning ISPs into utility companies have on incentivizing innovations around those areas already experiencing high-speed access? What of the jobs created/provided cable and telecommunications companies? The broad categories of questions that the CRTC is using to elicit public opinion make room to include the many issues that are relevant to the conversation. It is here that experts from The Centre for Engineering and society may prove most useful: first, we may serve the public good by foregrounding and examining such hidden issues; second, we may serve the regulatory agency by directing and informing public deliberations on such issues.