Friday, August 27, 2010

The CRTC Sucks

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission sucks.

I just got this nifty little widget in my Gmail inbox:

Yeah!! It's a PHONE! How awesome is that? Right now, you can use a phone inside of Gmail to call ANYWHERE in Canada or the USA - for free. Look, here are some calls I've made:

Mmm, Chinese food. 

But wait, there's more! Check out all these cool features...

Basically, Google will give you a new - free - phone number that allows you to answer phone calls on your computer, transfer calls from your cell to your computer (or vice versa), and allows you to give people one telephone number that could ring your cell, home, and work numbers all at the same time (if you wanted).

But there's the catch - US numbers only. 

The reason Canadians don't get access to futuristic call managing systems and advanced voicemail functionality is not because Google doesn't like Canadians - it's because the CRTC doesn't like Canadians. 

To have those advanced features, you need a real telephone number to link to your Google Voice account. CRTC regulations state that anything that can receive incoming phone calls - period - needs to have e911 services, so that when you call 911 from that number they can find your position. 

A purely VOIP telephone number, like Skype or Google Voice, cannot receive incoming calls (unless you do some advanced hackery by purchasing a US-based phone number) from a cell phone or landline because Skype and Google Voice can't offer e911 services - it's just the nature of the technology. So the CRTC is essentially telling Canadians to take their advanced technology and "suck it". No, you cannot have a newer way to communicate because then your friendly neighbourhood telecom can't charge you 83 cents plus a $6.25 system administration fee per phone bill.

What's most painful about these restrictions that prevent Canadians from benefiting from new technology is that the CRTC knows they suck:
The paradigm of broadcasting is bound in time by the technology which informed it. We are moving away from that technology and its limitations and our laws should move to address problems appropriate to today and not those of 1958 or 1997.
The rights of Canadians to talk and communicate across the Internet are vastly too important to be subjected to a scheme of government licensing. - Timothy Denton, CRTC Commissioner
Join me in contacting the CRTC, voice your concerns about restrictions over new technology and tell them to stop shafting Canadians out of new technologies!