CRTC, Telecom & Conference News – Super Channel takes on big retail with content piracy suit

Don McDonald

Allarco Entertainment, the Edmonton-based company that operates Super Channel, has filed suit against Best Buy, Staples, London Drugs and Canada Computers, alleging the retailers were complicit in promoting content piracy by selling internet streaming devices. Don McDonald, Super Channel President and CEO, said the lawsuit comes following a 19-month undercover investigation carried out at stores coast-to-coast. Allarco purports to have gathered over 100 hours of audio and video surveillance that documents 150 events supporting the claim. It’s released a video that includes snippets of covertly-recorded conversations with store employees and managers explaining how Pay TV content can be streamed for free using Android boxes with pre-installed software like Kodi. None of the allegations have been proven in court. Read more here.

Bell, Rogers and Quebecor have formally requested a website blocking order that would prohibit various internet service providers (ISPs) from allowing their customers to access alleged pirate IPTV service GoldTV. The case is seen as a test for court-ordered pirate site blockades in Canada.

Rogers, Shaw, Videotron, Cogeco and Eastlink parent company Bragg Communications are seeking an appeal of last month’s CRTC ruling on wholesale internet rates. They’ve filed a Federal Court challenge of the commission’s Aug. 15 ruling that set final rates governing what large ISPs can charge smaller telco players for access to their networks. Bell has made a separate filing that includes its regional affiliates Bell MTS in Manitoba and Bell Aliant in Atlantic Canada. The CRTC ruling not only set lower rates, but also required the big operators to compensate smaller third-party operators retroactively to 2016. Two of those independent ISPs, TekSavvy Solutions and Distributel Communications, have since announced that they’ll be passing those lower rates onto their customers, even though not mandated by the CRTC. Crediting the commission’s decision, TekSavvy says over 85% of its customers will benefit from reduced prices or upgraded, unlimited data plans on their next monthly bill, as the ISP streamlines its retail product line. Distributel says it’s initiated efforts to substantially increase home internet speeds for the majority of its customers at no extra cost. It says the decision will also allow it to launch competitive new retail pricing for bundled and stand-alone products and services.

The CRTC has opened the public comment period for renewal of Bell Fibe TV’s licences in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The commission will review Bell’s licence compliance in reference to its community television offerings in those regions.

Xplornet Communications has announced that it has sublicensed 40MHz of AWS-4 spectrum from TerreStar Solutions Inc., as part of its plan to build a national 5G wireless broadband network for rural Canadians. The spectrum agreement with TerreStar makes over 500 million MHzPOP of mid-band spectrum available to Xplornet for deployment in 37 tier 3 and 13 tier 4 areas across Canada until March 2035, with an option for Xplornet to extend the term of the agreement should TerreStar’s AWS-4 spectrum licences be renewed. The AWS-4 spectrum is one of a number of bands that will be deployed to deliver 5G services.  Xplornet says its 5G network will be delivered through the AWS-4 spectrum transaction, innovation with global equipment manufacturers and investment of over $500 million in the next five years.

Northwestel and Bell have announced that 15 megabits per second (Mbps) internet and LTE wireless service are now available in all 25 Nunavut communities. Northwestel and Bell are using the new open-access Tamarmik Nunaliit network to deliver the new services. Operating on Telesat ka-Band satellite technology, the network provides up to 20 times more internet capacity than previously available, making high-speed Internet and wireless service possible in each community. The project was completed within its two-year objective with support from a range of partners, including Industry Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) through the Connect to Innovate program, and Bell Mobility.

The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) has revealed Tom Goodwin, EVP, Head of Innovation at Zenith Media, as this year’s morning keynote speaker at Connection 2019 on Nov. 7. Goodwin, the author of Digital Darwinism, will speak on “The Future of Broadcasting in the Post Digital Age.” Register for Connection 2019 here.

Jeff Vidler, Fred Jacobs, David Phillips

The 72nd Annual BC Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) conference is approaching Oct. 2-3, in Victoria. Among the program highlights are Jeff Vidler of Audience Insights Inc. who’ll be presenting his focus group on the changing media consumption habits of Generation X; media strategist Fred Jacobs speaking on “You’re Not in the Radio Business Anymore: Stories from Innovators Who’ve Made the Transformation”; and NLogic president and COO David Phillips. Find the full program lineup and registration info here


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