The Hon. John Manley, Minister of Industry
THE CANADIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY AND SATELLITE TV IN CANADA
Chairman: Julie Hannaford, President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
Bill Laidlaw, Director, Government Relations, Glaxo Wellcome Inc. and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Winnie Chung, OAC Student, Eastern Commercial; Graeme Woodley, President and CEO, Digital Equipment, DR.; Larry Milligan, Vice-President, R and D, University of Guelph; Colin D. Watson, President and CEO, Spar Aerospace Ltd.; Thomas L. Wells, Former Ontario Agent General in the United Kingdom and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Rev. Donald Butler, Minister, Church of the Nativity; John Rogers, President and CEO, MDS Inc.; and Paul L'archeveque, Senior Vice-President, Customer Development, Glaxo Wellcome Inc.
Introduction by Julie Hannaford
If the popular media over the last decade has taught us anything, it has been that we as a society have undergone a change in our focus from a pre-occupation with the quality of life to a much more immediate pre-occupation with basic survival. We are told that this "survival" mentality arises in response to massive changes in industrial production, modes of communication and demographic shifts. Economies take longer to adapt to such shifts and therefore serve up critical issues of their own.
We know our society's pre-occupation with survival is complete when the self-help sections in our book stores are dominated by survival guides. One social commentator surveyed the literature in this area and found survival guides or manuals for virtually every group in our population, observing that the rhetoric of crisis now pervades discussion of virtually every topic from race relations, to prison reform, to mass culture, to fiscal management and to everyday life management.
The pressure on government in the last few years has been to address the Canadian concern about survival in one of two ways--by adopting short-term remedies associated with job creation, or by engaging the Canadian public in a long-term strategy. As we all know, from the point-of-view of both fiscal management and industry, it was the latter strategy that was adopted. For a society grown accustomed to quick fixes, sound bites, and instant cures, longer-range plans and visions are tough choices for such times.
One year ago, our guest today addressed The Empire Club of Canada and offered a strategy to meet the challenges facing industry and employment in an increasingly globalised industrial marketplace. Our guest's message at that time involved the building of an economy and a restoration of confidence by developing a climate for the development of jobs, rather than job creation. This involved by necessity support for technology development in the aerospace industry, the biotechnology industries and the telecommunications industries.
The good news appears to be that Canada is on the threshold of becoming a global leader in the field of technological development and growth. At The Empire Club of Canada, we have heard this message from the Presidents of Sprint, AT and T, Teleglobe (in telecommunications), and from the presidents of our biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries, including the International Chairman of Glaxo, and the President and CEO of Allelix Biopharmaceuticals. The corollary of this message is that if Canada maintains a leadership position in the global technological economy, then we will also have created a climate for long-term job development, which in turn also means that the focus on long-term development may well have been the right one.
It is one thing to come before The Empire Club of Canada and offer a vision and a plan for fiscal management and for job growth. It is quite another to agree to report on the outcome of such visions and plans. Our guest today, in February, 1996 offered his vision and plan for job growth in the new economy. Today, our guest reports to us on the progress of the agenda to place Canada in a competitive position in the global marketplace and the new economy.
The Honourable John Manley was first elected in 1988, was re-elected in 1993 as a Member of Parliament for Ottawa South and was appointed Minister of Industry in November, 1993. Throughout his tenure as Minister of Industry, Mr. Manley has been devoted to the development of a positive climate for entrepreneurs and for the growth of small businesses, to the expansion of markets for jobs through trade, and to the strategic development and construction of Canada's Information Highway.
He has throughout been dedicated to placing Canada and Canadian industry on the road to a successful meeting with the millennium. It has been our privilege to hear his vision; today, Mr. Manley reports on the implementation of that vision and its success.
It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to ask you to join me in welcoming to The Empire Club of Canada, The Honourable John Manley.
Thank you for your kind introduction, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity to speak once again to The Empire Club.
For the past three-and-a-half years as Minister of Industry, I have had the opportunity to observe first hand one of the most remarkable transformations of Canada's economy and society in our history. This transformation is taking place as Canada enters a new era of global markets and an economy driven by knowledge. Literally overnight, new products and processes create new market opportunities. Companies innovate at such a fast pace that in some sectors the leading-edge product of five years ago is today's out-moded piece of junk.
Canadians have proven themselves to be remarkably resilient in coping with this pace of change. I don't want to downplay the hardships of the transition. The job markets shift and many are left without the right skills for the new economy. The speed of change takes its toll on our family lives and our sense of security and well-being. But Canadians have also seized the opportunities of this new economy. Canada has seen a rapid increase in the number of small businesses and a growing spirit of entrepreneurship. We've seen a change in the efficiency and productivity of our businesses.
We are entering an information era in which, as never before, jobs and growth will depend upon the quality of our communications infrastructure, on the strength of our education system, on our ability to build partnerships that span the country and reach out to the world, and on our ability to innovate.
Today I want to talk about Canada's strength in information technologies and telecommunications, and particularly my view of the new World Trade Agreement on telecom and the current prospects for satellite TV in Canada.
Canadians have risen to the challenge created by new technologies and new corporate structures. Among the G7 we have the best communications infrastructure overall and are among the leaders in terms of penetration, quality, market development and rates. Consider:
• Over 98 per cent of Canadian households have at least one telephone.
• Over 95 per cent of Canadian households have access to cable TV.
• Cellular services are available to 90 per cent of Canadians.
• We have several coast-to-coast fibre optic networks.
• We have a national broadband research network.
In the process of building the world's best communications infrastructure, we have built industries that sell knowledge-based goods and services to a global economy. Consider Canada's strong information and communications technology industries:
• They export to over 90 countries and employ some 400,000 Canadians.
• In 1995 they had revenues of $60 billion and accounted for 6.8 per cent of our GDP.
• The sector is a leader in research and development accounting for one-third of total industrial R and D in Canada.
The potential for jobs and growth in our information and communications technology industries is enormous. Over the last five years employment growth in this sector has averaged 11.2 per cent per year compared to a national average in all sectors of 2.6 per cent. Half the world's population--over three billion people--have yet to make their first phone call. Therefore, a huge market for communication equipment and services is waiting to be tapped. Canadians are going to sell their expertise and their products to the world. Telecommunications holds an opportunity for Canada to create new jobs and to sustain economic growth for the century to come.
But we're not going to get there by resting on our laurels. No industry changes faster than information technology and telecommunications. Two factors have helped accelerate the change.
First of all, prices for information technology and communications equipment have dropped while computing power has increased dramatically. As the Economist magazine pointed out, if cars and their prices had developed at the same pace as micro processors over the past two decades a typical car would now cost less than five dollars and get 250,000 miles to the gallon.
Second, information can now be digitised into a sequence of zeros and ones that can be transmitted across many media. And those media must now compete with one another for customers that they once had captive to their own technology.
In the past, cable technology was very good at relaying large amounts of information such as a TV image. But it could not transmit information both ways, like a telephone does. Telephones, on the other hand, were good at two-way communication but couldn't transmit a picture. That's all changing. And it's happening right now:
• Bell Canada has asked permission from the CRTC to test a proposed broad-band service in London, Ontario, and Repentigny, Quebec. The phone company wants to offer broadcast and multimedia services to up to 3,500 households.
• Groupe Videotron Ltee has a cable network that reaches 80 per cent of Quebec and 145,000 subscribers in Alberta. In co-operation with a wireless phone company, Microcell, it's about to conduct the first tests in Canada to combine wireless telephone with cable TV.
• The cable industry is now introducing a new service utilising cable-modem technology to plug subscribers into the Internet. The result is higher speeds and the ability to access phone, television, and Internet services at the same time.
As these companies race to put more services at the fingertips of their customers, the ability of the technology to deliver different kinds of services races ahead as well.
• Medical doctors in small towns use technology to share ECGs and ultrasound images with their colleagues in the sophisticated medical centres of big cities.
• Our children use computers and modems to explore the libraries of the world's universities and take virtual field trips to museums around the globe.
• Small businesses in one province create jobs and growth by downloading information from satellites, and interpreting it so that farmers in another province can get a better idea about soil conditions.
Yesterday we marvelled at how technology gave us these opportunities. By tomorrow, they will already have become commonplace. We'll use them as easily as we use a telephone today.
We are well down the road in a new technology phenomenon that some call the "Information Highway," others the "Network Economy." Early in the mandate, the government of Canada determined that Canadians must remain in the forefront of the new technology. We formed a high-level Information Highway Advisory Council and proceeded to establish a framework for Canadian achievement.
We made the Information Highway an integral part of the Jobs and Growth Agenda. We focused on three key objectives: ensure that the Information Highway created jobs through innovation and investment; ensure it reinforced Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity; and ensure all Canadians would have access to essential communications services at reasonable cost.
At the heart of this strategy was our belief in the power of a competitive marketplace. Competition leads to consumer choice. It leads to innovation. It leads to success in the markets of the world and therefore to jobs for Canadians. Competition will prevail among companies in the same technology, like Bell and Sprint Canada; and Microcell and Bell Mobility. Different technologiescable, wireless, telephone and satellite--will also compete to offer the same services.
Over the past three-and-a-half years, my job has been to remove the barriers and the constraints that restricted that competition. We have moved from a highly regulated environment to one in which competition can flourish. We have overhauled our telecommunications policy until, today, it is one of the most competition-driven in the world.
We've seen the market open for long-distance telephony and rates have fallen. Soon new competitors will also compete for your local calls. Not long after that you'll be able to pick and choose what services you want from the supplier you want.
Moving to a competitive telecommunications market is a great deal more complex than in most other industries. The incumbents start with immense advantages which can be used to frustrate the establishment of competitors, unless appropriate regulatory action is taken. On the other hand, if the incumbents are unduly disadvantaged, then Canadian firms will find their ability to grow from a domestic base into new markets is impeded. In addition, the introduction of competition cannot be allowed to compromise the delivery of essential telecommunications services to Canadians.
The transformation to a truly competitive telecommunications market in Canada is not complete, but with a wide range of new service providers entering the market, and several important CRTC decisions expected in the coming months, we should soon be there.
Some weeks ago John McLennan, President of Bell Canada, expressed his frustration over the regulatory constraints that still apply to his company. I would be surprised if a fierce competitor like John was not eager to compete. I too look forward to a day when the regulator's work will be largely completed and there will be full competition for all telecommunications services in the marketplace. But I want competition to endure, not to appear in an instant and then disappear as the big players reassert their dominance. Nor will I readily or easily concede our market to the giants from the U.S., Europe and Asia.
But we are moving rapidly! We've opened the market for new wireless technologies. We have issued four licences to companies that will supply personal communications services or PCS. These companies will be able to offer services, such as Internet access and paging, that are not available through existing cellular phone technology. Last November, Microcell launched its Fido service in the Montreal area making it the first company in Canada to offer PCS under these licences.
We have also issued new licences for Local Multipoint Communication Systems. LMCS will now provide competition to cable, telephone and satellite distribution systems. The applicants propose to invest over a billion dollars and create up to 8,000 new jobs over the next five years in the wireless industry. The CRTC is proceeding with licences for a related technology called MMDS.
Wireless technologies contribute to Canada's new economy infrastructure, provide new competition to bring prices down, and encourage innovation and new products and services. We lead the pack in the global race to get these technologies up and running. We issued our LMCS licenses before the United States completed their licensing process. Canadian companies will have products and services to export when other nations are ready to create their LMCS and PCS networks. We are ahead of the U.S. in licensing Digital Radio Broadcasting--DRB which offers broadcasters the opportunity to provide programming with CD quality. We're ahead of the world in connecting all of our schools to the Internet. And by the year 2000, we will have connected all communities of more than 400 people to the Internet through our Community Access Program.
And now, we're ready to use our advantages and create jobs and growth in Canada by marketing products and services to the world. Three weeks ago, Canada and our trading partners made a major breakthrough in the global trade of telecommunications with the signing of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services.
Canada gained a more secure access to foreign markets. The Agreement establishes a clear set of rules in a sector which, up to now, has had none. The WTO dispute settlement process provides safeguards to ensure countries respect their commitments.
In trade agreements, like the rest of life, you rarely get something for nothing. What did Canada have to put on the table to receive this access to the markets of the world? A more competitive environment here at home. Teleglobe Canada's monopoly on overseas traffic will expire on October 1, 1998 and Teleglobe's ownership restrictions will end. Foreign ownership will continue to be unrestricted in the resale sector and submarine cable landings in Canada will soon be opened as well. In the year 2000, Telesat's monopoly on fixed satellite services will end. Traffic routing rules for all international services and all satellite services must be removed by 2000. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this is a very reasonable price to pay in return for the world of opportunity opened up to a dynamic Canadian telecommunications industry.
Canada pushed hard for a successful conclusion to the WTO negotiations. We played an important role: by showing the advantages of developing a competitive marketplace; by demonstrating the importance of an effective regulatory framework; and by working with likeminded delegations to resolve the myriad of technical issues that arise in such complex negotiations.
In the end our most important contribution was to demonstrate the importance of looking at the offers on the table as a package. For example, the Canadian offer combined very high commitments with respect to competition and an effective regulatory framework. Furthermore, while Canada does require Canadian control of its telecommunications companies, the rules do permit substantial foreign participation with the result that current foreign investment and participation in our telecommunications industry is higher than in virtually all other countries.
Taken as a whole, the accord represents an enormous achievement which will create opportunities for Canadians. This success follows on the heels of the Information Technology Agreement signed in Singapore last December which will eliminate tariffs on information technology equipment.
The combined effects of these agreements will spur investment around the world, increasing opportunities for Canadian telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers.
But there was one important technology that was left out of the WTO agreement on telecommunications--Direct Broadcast Satellites or DBS. DBS represents the latest generation of communications satellite technology, and this is the second topic on which I would like to offer some thoughts.
In Canada, we now use communications satellites for telephone network applications; point-to-point communications; data broadcasts; business television; mobile communications; and satellite personal communications. As well we use them for TV and radio distribution. Satellites send signals to cable systems and they also distribute TV network programmes to your local TV stations.
The new DBS technology will deliver digital television and audio services directly to your home using a small receiving dish. In Canada, this is called Direct to Home satellite TV, or DTH. Three factors come into play in providing DTH--three pieces of a puzzle. You need a market for the service; you need a broadcaster who will distribute the service; and you need a satellite.
We are reasonably sure that we have the first piece: the market for the service. Service providers have estimated that there is a potential DTH market of two million Canadian homes. Many of those homes have not waited for the other two pieces to be put in place. Media estimates of the number of households now using dishes to pull unauthorised signals from American satellites range from 200,000 to 300,000. This is the so-called grey market, where people subscribe to an American service, using an American address to do it.
There is also a black market in Canada. This is quite a different thing. It involves tampering with the equipment so that signals can be picked up without paying for them. As you may have read in the media, there have been RCMP investigations into this activity.
Some people argue that the grey and black markets don't really matter. But if they become large enough, it could have a significant impact on Canadian broadcasters who have invested in the rights to distribute the same programming in Canada, and in the extreme, it undermines our ability to maintain an independent, Canadian, broadcasting system. It affects jobs and growth in the Canadian production and satellite industries.
Industry Canada put out a brochure last November so that consumers are aware of the risks of buying equipment and services on the grey or black markets. Consumers should know that these services can be cut off at anytime, making the equipment useless.
But we believe the best way to address the grey market in Canada is to get competitive Canadian DTH services up and running as soon as possible. That requires putting the other two pieces of the puzzle in place.
We've got the second piece: the distributors who will sign up subscribers for their broadcasting services. Five broadcasters are now licensed. They are anxious to get going. Several have been conducting trials and two of them have indicated that they hope to be on the air with limited services by the end of the month.
There will be competition for the DTH services and consumers will have a choice. But as a government, we had to go to extraordinary measures to ensure that there would be competition for this service.
In 1983, supported strongly by Canadian broadcasters, Canada secured six DBS orbital positions from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Using the technology available at that time all six orbital positions would have been required to provide one full DBS service throughout Canada. Modern technology permits a satellite located in at least three of these slots to be used to provide full Canada coverage, together with coverage of the U.S. The other slots are all capable of covering large parts of North America.
Traditionally the CRTC has responded to new technologies with the premise that any broadcasting undertaking that would have a significant impact on the Canadian broadcasting system should apply for a license. In exchange for the licence, the broadcasters usually make commitments that will benefit the communities they intend to serve. Those commitments might include, for example, a promise to invest in Canadian programme production.
In March 1994, the CRTC reversed its usual position. Instead of licensing DTH, the Commission exempted DTH companies from the need for a broadcasting licence, provided they met certain conditions.
Exemptions are usually used to cut down on regulation and red tape. They're used for such things as closed-circuit video programmes in hotels and low-power radio services. But this Exemption Order set only minimal obligations for DTH undertakings. For example, there were no requirements for financial contributions for Canadian programme production. As well, the Order required exclusive use of Canadian satellite facilities for the Canadian DTH market. Only one company, ExpressVu, could meet this test. In short, the Order would have eliminated competition among broadcasters of DTH.
This became a test of the government of Canada's will to ensure that the Information Highway would be built upon open markets and fair competition. It tested our resolve in the philosophy that competition creates innovation, jobs and growth.
In September 1994, my colleague, The Honourable Michel Dupuy, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and I announced we would review DTH policy. We commissioned a Review Panel, consisting of three distinguished former public servants. The Review Panel received 500 submissions. In April 1995, they recommended a policy framework and licensing regime based on competition, not monopoly. The government issued orders based on this report in July 1995.
Currently the CRTC has issued five licenses for satellite TV services. These include: ExpressVu and Power DirecTV licensed in December 1995; StarChoice licensed in August 1996; HomeStar licensed in September 1996; and, last week the CRTC granted AlphaStar Canada Inc. a licence. I am told that this service should be available very soon.
Unlike the other DTH licensees, AlphaStar initially will use an American satellite owned and operated by AT and T and will migrate its service to a Canadian satellite once space becomes available. I am announcing today that in order to accelerate the introduction of competitive DTH service in Canada, I will authorise AlphaStar Canada's application to use an AT and T fixed satellite temporarily until Canadian satellite capacity becomes available.
Which brings us to the third piece of the puzzle: the satellite itself. Canada has always prided itself in the quality of its satellite technology. The launch of Alouette in 1962 made Canada the world's third space-faring nation. In fact, Canada had the first domestic geostationary communication satellite system in the world--Anik A. Since then Canadian satellite technology has been instrumental in keeping Canadians communicating with one another. It has provided us with knowledge-intensive jobs in a global marketplace for both communications and earth observation satellites.
Our telecommunications industry must keep abreast of evolving communication technology. DBS satellites are the most sophisticated and most powerful currently available. Canada does not yet have one. If I were to draw an analogy with the computer market, I would describe DBS as a Pentium computer. Canada's Anik E satellites are the equivalent of a 486. Since one of the Aniks began to malfunction as a result of a space storm last summer, Canada's satellite communications have been running on the equivalent of a 386.
A DBS satellite is a very expensive bird, costing at least $300 million each. But one DBS satellite can provide over 200 television channels which should be sufficient to meet the immediate needs of Canadian broadcasters. At two million potential DTH customers, the Canadian market is on the borderline of being able to support DBS. Access to a broader North American market would obviously make a Canadian DBS more profitable.
This was a route pursued by Telesat last summer when it struck an alliance with American broadcasters who would use a U.S. built Canadian-owned satellite to reach their own domestic market. I believe that this arrangement would have benefitted consumers in both Canada and the United States, providing Canada's first DBS capacity and increased DBS competition in the U.S.
However, the FCC rejected the licence application of the American partners and indicated that they would link any further discussions to an examination of Canada's broadcasting and cultural policies. This is something we were not and are not prepared to accept. We have indicated that we are prepared to negotiate reciprocity with the U.S. in respect of DBS satellite facilities. However, we believe that Canadian content must have an important place in the Canadian broadcast system.
Last July, in the aftermath of the FCC refusal to license Telesat's American partners, I announced that we would pursue a made-in-Canada DBS/DTH policy. In November, we invited applications from companies interested in operating a DBS to serve Canada's broadcasting needs. Last Friday, applications closed and we received one proposal from Telesat in co-operation with Spar Aerospace. They have proposed to build and operate a Canadian satellite in a Canadian orbital slot. This application is currently being reviewed by my department and 1 hope to be able to announce a decision by the end of the month so that a Canadian DBS satellite could be launched next year.
Personally, I'm disappointed that we don't have a Canadian DTH service up and running today. I firmly believe that, as a government, we have taken all possible steps to make a competitive DTH service happen. But we have stopped short of allowing American firms access to our market when Canadian firms cannot have access to theirs.
Why have we insisted on a made-in-Canada solution? Why don't we simply allow the U.S. satellite services to broadcast to Canadian homes? It's more than ensuring that Canada has four well-paved on ramps to the Information Highway: satellite in addition to telephony, cable and wireless. It's also about maintaining a vibrant Canadian culture, and being able to distribute it to Canadian homes. It was a Canadian, Marshall McLuhan, who said that the medium is the message. Without a Canadian DBS broadcasting direct-to-home programming made in Canada, a generation of Canadians will grow up with a whole new medium without any Canadian message.
But our satellite policy is also about keeping alive an industry that has been a source of pride and a provider of high-quality, knowledge-intensive jobs. We want to build our own satellite infrastructure and develop highly skilled workers. We want to make it attractive to keep those workers in Canada. We want them to be able to market Canadian services to the world.
Ladles and gentlemen, the satellite industry in Canada, together with the rest of the information and communications industries, provides a powerhouse that is going to drive Canada's economy in the 21st century. As the world moves into the Information Age, Canada's economic growth will increasingly depend on our ability to develop and apply the latest in information and communications technologies. We believe that a truly competitive market will lead to the kind of entrepreneurship and innovation that Canada needs to stay ahead in the accelerating race for new and better technology.
I know that we are not going to move into the information age without some adjustments. But change is always accompanied by unprecedented opportunities for those with the foresight, creativity and skills to seize the moment. I am confident that Canadians working together can meet this challenge.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Bill Laidlaw, Director, Government Relations, Glaxo Wellcome Inc. and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada.