Commissioner of Competition Comments on Government's Decision to Deregulate Local Telecommunications Sector

A number of press releases today about the de-regulation of the local phone market. I suspect this will be harmful for competition and consumers as de-regulating a market that is dominated by monopolies tends to allow those monopolies to exert worse market influence.

The following press release indicates that the Competition Bureau will at least be following this closely.

OTTAWA, April 4, 2007 --The Competition Bureau says that it is ready to do its part to promote and safeguard competition in the deregulated local telecommunications sector. The Government of Canada announced earlier today that it will move ahead to accelerate deregulation of local phone services.

"The Competition Bureau has telecommunications as one of its top priorities," said Commissioner of Competition Sheridan Scott. "We will take action in a timely and effective manner if there is evidence of abuse of a dominant position."

Over the past year, the Bureau has met with a cross-section of telecommunications industry participants in order to stay on top of the changes in technology that are driving this industry and the competitive challenges that they face. The Bureau is also working closely with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on an ongoing basis to share expertise. The provision of an additional $10.5 million to the Bureau's budget over five years will enable it to strengthen its ability to respond quickly and effectively to any complaints about anti-competitive behaviour in newly deregulated telecommunications markets.

The Bureau investigates alleged abuse of dominance in most sectors of the economy. It publishes guidelines on its enforcement approach and is finalizing an enforcement bulletin on abuse of dominance in telecommunications which it expects to release by the end of June 2007. The bulletin will allow the Bureau to provide guidance and educate the industry when compliance issues might arise.

The Competition Bureau supports efforts to place greater reliance on market forces. It is an independent law enforcement agency that promotes and maintains fair competition so that all Canadians can benefit from competitive prices, product choice and quality services. It oversees the application of the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, the Textile Labelling Act and the Precious Metals Marking Act..