One thing that part-time commentators on the telecommunications market – or what I like to call Telecom Tourists – often forget when defending the industry is that it’s not just cranky teenagers sitting in their parents’ basements who are angry about the state of things. Small businesses and entrepreneurs, the people who aren’t being represented at this week’s Telecom Summit, are also hopping mad. They just don’t say so in public as much because they fear repercussions from their service providers.
The Canadian government considers the video game industry to be one of the bright spots of the country’s nascent knowledge-based economy – so much so that it unveiled its most recent attempt at copyright legislation at Electronic Arts Montreal last year. As such, you have to believe politicians take the industry’s views seriously.
In that vein, Denis Dyack has some pointed advice. Dyack is the oustpoken president of St. Catharines, Ont.-based Silicon Knights, a medium-sized studio that has worked on such games as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (considered to be one of the best Canadian-produced games of all time). I spoke with him last week for a story I’m working on and here’s what he had to say about Canada’s telecom situation:
I’ll come out and say it now: The CRTC should be completely dissolved. They are not helping our knowledge-based economy, I don’t see how they’re helping the consumer. It’s completely the opposite. I was so happy before with where they were going with the [usage-based] billing getting overturned. We’re going to make a concerted effort to start putting the light of day to some of the things that they’re doing because it’s not consumer friendly. It’s really holding us back, it’s holding our knowledge-based industries back from going as fast as they should be. It’s very bad, I’m very, very disappointed with the direction they’ve been going.
All those things about internet [usage-based] billing, we believe it was all about Netflix, nothing else. People worry about how much we’re using Netflix, which is now accounting for 33 per cent of the bandwidth, I think, on the internet. It’s becoming very successful… The bottom line is I really question how Canada is being protected culturally, I’d argue we’re being held back culturally because of these issues. We have the worst rates in the world. It’s only because we’re Canadian that we don’t kick up a stink enough. We’re willing to put up with the pain tolerance of this but we need to start standing up and saying, ‘This is wrong.’ We’re in Niagara, [so] people at Silicon Knights get cellphones from the U.S. because it’s cheaper, even with international rates. That’s terrible.
Needless to say, I don’t think Dyack will ever be invited to speak at the Telecom Summit.