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Telecommunications - Radiocommunication Act

. Telus Communications Inc. v. Federation of Canadian Municipalities

In Telus Communications Inc. v. Federation of Canadian Municipalities (Fed CA, 2023) the Federal Court of Appeal conducted a Telecommunications Act [s.64] 'appeal' in relation to mobile wireless telecommunications. I parenthesize 'appeal' because these matters are quite unique, being more in the nature of a court audit of recently-issued CRTC 'Regulatory Policy' decisions to assess them for legality. As this quote indicates these cases are largely dictated by the state of current telecommunications market and technology:
[15] As previously mentioned, the decision is very comprehensive and covers a lot of ground. It is structured in four parts: (1) the state of competition in the retail market, which includes a market power analysis (CRTC Decision at paras. 28-157); (2) regulatory measures at the wholesale level, which include measures related to wholesale MVNO access service, wholesale roaming service and seamless roaming, and access to infrastructure (CRTC Decision at paras. 158-489); (3) regulatory measures at the retail level to support competition (CRTC Decision at paras. 490-600); (4) other issues raised by the parties during the proceeding (CRTC Decision at paras. 601-630).
Here the court sets out the legislative scheme governing telecommunication and radiocommunication in Canada under the Telecommunications Act and Radiocommunications Act:
IV. The legislative framework

[34] To better understand the issues raised in this appeal and the arguments put forward by the parties, it is essential to have a good grasp of the legislative scheme governing telecommunication and radiocommunication in Canada. Equally important are the roles played by the CRTC when imposing conditions of service to Canadian carriers, and by the Minister in issuing and amending the conditions of licence authorizing carriers to use specific radiofrequency bands for the provision of their services, and in approving the location at which wireless facilities such as antennas may be situated.

[35] As the Supreme Court held in Reference re Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-167 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2010-168, 2012 SCC 68, [2012] 3 S.C.R. 489 [Reference re Broadcasting] (at paras. 34 and 37), the Broadcasting Act, S.C. 1991, c. 11 the Radiocommunication Act and the Telecommunications Act are part of an "“interrelated scheme”"; while they have different aims, their subject matters will overlap in certain circumstances. As a result, persons regulated under one of the Acts may well be regulated under one of the other Acts as well.

[36] Broadly speaking, the Telecommunications Act’s main objective is the supervision of telecommunications services (voice and data) provided to the public throughout Canada and, as an accessory, the regulation of facilities-based telecommunications common carriers. The Act falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, but for all intents and purposes, the primary responsibility for the implementation and administration of the Act falls to the CRTC.

[37] Pursuant to section 47 of the Act, the CRTC is required to consider the policy objectives set out in section 7 of the Act when exercising any of its powers:
"47 The Commission shall exercise its powers and perform its duties under this Act and any special Act "

"47"" Le Conseil doit, en se conformant aux décrets que lui adresse le gouverneur en conseil au titre de l’article 8 ou aux normes prescrites par arrêté du ministre au titre de l’article 15, exercer les pouvoirs et fonctions que lui confèrent la présente loi et toute loi spéciale de manière à réaliser les objectifs de la politique canadienne de télécommunication et à assurer la conformité des services et tarifs des entreprises canadiennes avec les dispositions de l’article 27. "

"(a) with a view to implementing the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives and ensuring that Canadian carriers provide telecommunications services and charge rates in accordance with section 27; and "


"(b) in accordance with any orders made by the Governor in Council under section 8 or any standards prescribed by the Minister under section 15. "

[38] These objectives are set out in section 7 of the Act, and include the following:
"7 It is hereby affirmed that telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada’s identity and sovereignty and that the Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives "

"7"" La présente loi affirme le caractère essentiel des télécommunications pour l’identité et la souveraineté canadiennes; la politique canadienne de télécommunication vise à : "

"(a) to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions; "

"a)"" favoriser le développement ordonné des télécommunications partout au Canada en un système qui contribue à sauvegarder, enrichir et renforcer la structure sociale et économique du Canada et de ses régions; "

"(b) to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada; "

"b)"" permettre l’accès aux Canadiens dans toutes les régions — rurales ou urbaines — du Canada à des services de télécommunication sûrs, abordables et de qualité; "

"(c) to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness, at the national and international levels, of Canadian telecommunications; "

"c)"" accroître l’efficacité et la compétitivité, sur les plans national et international, des télécommunications canadiennes; "

"… "

"… "

"(f) to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective; "

"f)"" favoriser le libre jeu du marché en ce qui concerne la fourniture de services de télécommunication et assurer l’efficacité de la réglementation, dans le cas où celle-ci est nécessaire; "

"… "

"… "

"(h) to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services; and "

"h)"" satisfaire les exigences économiques et sociales des usagers des services de télécommunication;"
[39] Section 8 of the Act authorizes the Governor in Council to" “issue to the Commission directions of general application on broad policy matters with respect to the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives”". An order made under that section is binding on the Commission (the Act, ss. 11(1) and 47(b)). At the time the decision under appeal was issued, two directions given by the Governor in Council were particularly relevant. The first one, issued in 2006, directed the Commission, when relying on regulation, to use measures that satisfy four criteria, one of them being:
1(b)(iv) if they relate to network interconnection arrangements or regimes for access to networks, buildings, in-building wiring or support structures, ensure the technological and competitive neutrality of those arrangements or regimes, to the greatest extent possible, to enable competition from new technologies and not to artificially favour either Canadian carriers or resellers

Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives, S.O.R./2006-355
[40] The second direction, released in 2019, directs the CRTC to consider the extent to which its decisions "“enable innovation in telecommunications services, including new technologies and differentiated service offerings”": Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives to Promote Competition, Affordability, Consumer Interests and Innovation, S.O.R./2019-227, para. 1(a)(vi).

[41] Also of particular relevance for this appeal are the following definitions found in section 2 of the Act:
"Canadian carrier means a telecommunications common carrier that is subject to the legislative authority of Parliament; (entreprise canadienne) "

"entreprise canadienne"" Entreprise de télécommunication qui relève de la compétence fédérale. (Canadian carrier) "

"telecommunications means the emission, transmission or reception of intelligence by any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or by any similar technical system; (télécommunication) "

"télécommunication"" La transmission, l’émission ou la réception d’information soit par système électromagnétique, notamment par fil, câble ou système radio ou optique, soit par tout autre procédé technique semblable. (telecommunications) "

"telecommunications facility means any facility, apparatus or other thing that is used or is capable of being used for telecommunications or for any operation directly connected with telecommunications, and includes a transmission facility; (installation de télécommunication) "

"installation de télécommunication"" Installation, appareils ou toute autre chose servant ou pouvant servir à la télécommunication ou à toute opération qui y est directement liée, y compris les installations de transmission. (telecommunications facility) "

"transmission facility means any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or any similar technical system, for the transmission of intelligence between network termination points, but does not include any exempt transmission apparatus. (installation de transmission) "

"installation de transmission"" Tout système électromagnétique — notamment fil, câble ou système radio ou optique — ou tout autre procédé technique pour la transmission d’information entre des points d’arrivée du réseau, à l’exception des appareils de transmission exclus. (transmission facility) "
[42] Parliament expressly empowered the CRTC to subject the provision of telecommunications services by a Canadian carrier to conditions (the Act, s. 24). There is no dispute that the national carriers – Telus, Bell and Rogers – are Canadian carriers and that wholesale roaming is a telecommunications service within the meaning of section 2 of the Act.


[131] In short, a careful examination of the whole legislative scheme governing radiocommunication and telecommunications in Canada shows that the Minister and the CRTC exercise different powers over different types of entities and for different purposes. These powers are complementary and sometimes overlap, and the fact that the Minister and the CRTC may reach different conclusions on a specific topic is by no means a sign that one is encroaching upon the jurisdiction of the other. It is rather because they arrive at their respective conclusions from different perspectives, with a view to implementing different policy objectives.


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Last modified: 16-04-23
By: admin