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Industry Canada mandates public consultation on all new cellphone towers

moore

While we wait for the results of the 700 MHz spectrum auction to be revealed, Industry Minister, James Moore, unveiled today new rules for companies planning to install antenna towers.

Federal regulations previously stated that telcos were mandated to notify the government when they installed a tower of 15 feet or higher. Over the past number of years, many carriers have erected towers just shy of this hight to bypass any communication with the government or residents.

Today, Moore closed this loophole and declared enhancements to the Antenna Tower Siting Policy, specifically noting these changes will “increase transparency for municipalities and improve communications throughout the tower siting process.” Carriers must now — regardless of height — consult on all commercial tower installations and establish a 3-year limit between the time of consultation and the tower building itself.

This move will certainly help those residents who felt their protests have been ignored over the years, but now that any size tower needs to follow a communication path I wonder if the government will slow down the speed at which they’re installed.

Source: Industry Canada

  • Rich

    The War on Wireless~

    • Delphus

      …to gather votes from the ignorant…

    • Peter

      Yup, I guess the quarter million people the telecom employees isn’t worth much. Never seen a government go so much after an industry. And at the root of all this is government regulation from start to finish. The telcos just play by the rules, even if those rules keep changing and it means higher costs for consumers.sighhhhhhh

    • Philosoraptor

      Oh, those poor, poor telcos…

    • Who Needs Facts

      Do you really think the Telcos are going to absorb this new regulatory cost?

    • Philosoraptor

      They can raise their prices all they want. I’ll do what I’ve done before – vote with my wallet. If need be, I’ll go prepaid to cover emergencies. And if I can do it, most people can do it (and I’m talking about regular consumers, business users are no more my concern than my usage is theirs).

    • kkritsilas

      The telcos are suffering so badly, to the tune of what, Billions of dollars in profit per year. Oh, woe is them.

      The Big 3 are so lucky that there is a politician running Industry Canada, and not somebody who really understands the industry. If there was somebody who really wanted to increase competition in the wireless industry, they would have taken back ALL unused spectrum in all regions and offered it up for auction again. That would include the 850 MHz spectrum and the 1800/1900 owned by the Big 3, and the 1700MHz owned by Shaw (and never deployed) and Videotron’s 1700MHz spectrum in the GTA (also never deployed).

      The government, specifically IC, is going after the Big 3 because they have made a serious attempt to both circumvent the rules (see the Telus attempt to by Mobilicity, the Rogers attempt to buy Shaw’s 1700MHz spectrum before the 5 year rules were up), and embarrass the gov’t. See the hysterical ad campaign when Verizon was thinking about coming up to Canada). They are getting what they deserve. It isn’t like Canadians think they are well served by the BIg 3, and it isn’t though the Big 3 are not actively trying to limit competition.

      I have zero sympathy for the Big 3. They are just so lucky that I am not running IC, because all of the above would have been implemented.

      Kostas

    • Peter

      The point is you can’t have a government that is elected by the people be so opposed against one industry. Especially considering it is such a small part of monthly expenses. Compare the cost of your cell phone bill against your gasoline bill. Why not go after the collusion in the oil industry? If they are so consumer friendly save us some money there instead. Not $5-$10 on my plan.

    • Who Needs Facts

      Billions in profits means billions in taxes, wages and spending for Canadians and by Canadians.

      Ask any lumber town in BC how things are going after the forest companies pulled out. The ripple down effect of the industry goes far beyond the mill closing. It is no different in the wireless industry.

      And really? They are going after the Telcos as revenge? If IC would stop changing the damn rules every few months perhaps it would not be a constant battle – ya think?

      How you can berate the telcos for standing up to as you call it, a politician that has no understanding of what he is doing is baffling.

    • kkritsilas

      I can berate the telcos because they have manipulated the market and the ignorance of politicans to fleece their subscribers and to line their own pockets.

      I don’t care who you are, individual, company, or even a government body, if you are being continually slagged by mistruths or outright lies, you take offense. Answer me this: before the Big 3 launched their marketing campaign against Verizon’s entry, how often did you hear the gov’t air ads about how the Big 3 controlled >85% of the available spectrum? They did before the Big 3 advertising started, but the gov’t never said anything. After that campaign, the gov’t is going after the Big 3 in a big way, and the Big 3 deserve it.

      Aside from the current tower consultation rules, where has IC changed anything? They have told the Big 3 that they must abide by the 1700 MHz auction rules that the Big 3 themselves signed up to as a pre-condition of participating in that auction. This was not a rule change. Those same rules do not allow the Big 3 to buy up Mobilicity, Why is that a surprise? Why did Telus try to be Mobilicity a second time after being denied the first time around? Or was it that the Feds wanted to allow Verizon to enter the Canadian market? Verizon was not an existing carrier in Canada, so their market share was 0%. As per the rules, they would have been allowed to enter the Canadian market as a foreign owned carrier, and to participate in the 700 MHz auction. How are any of these rule changes?

      Politicians are clueless rubes. They do have people who advise them about whatever area they are in charge of. However, the politicians have the final say in all decisions. And this is where it falls down. I am sure that previous ministers have been warned about spectrum concentration in the past, and have not done anything about it. The last two IC ministers have. I think they haven’t gone far enough. I would closely start to monitor the spectrum that is in use, vs. what licenses are out there, and if they didn’t closely align, I would be really considering pulling those licenses when the next licensing period came up.

      Kostas

    • Who Needs Facts

      This was not the Feds. This was a government party attacking a private business. It is completely is unprecedented. It is something they usually reserve for taking on public sector unions.

      And to do it unabashedly, saying they, they Conservatives, are the consumers advocate, the consumer friends, while spending millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising had nothing to do with the Feds taking on the big three, it was all a vote grab for the Conservatives.

      Given that in the end Verizon said their interest was basically exploratory at best, Moore – who unless he is even more incompetent in the portfolio than he appears allowed and even created a situation to allow him to get into a fight with telcos over the rules for the 700Mhz auction.

      Regarding rules. Moore has already said that regardless of the regulation prohibiting an incumbent from buying Mobilicity expiring this month he will still may block the Mobilicity sale, depending on who the buyer is – ie: incumbents.

      Regarding use or lose licenses – does that apply to all carriers or just the incumbents? And would that not be another rule change as there was no such condition on the spectrum (unlike the 700Mhz spectrum) when all carriers bought it?

      We are not too far apart. We both seem to agree that the government handling of the industry has not been stellar, nor actually even adequate. We just happen to be on either side of the fence as to how things need to proceed.

    • kkritsilas

      You can assign motivations to the Conservative party if you like. I think it was IC finally coming to the realization that the Big 3 are not benevolent providers of services, but regular corporations whose only purpose in life is to maximize, and continue to macimize their profits; and it doesn’t matter if ti is good for consumers, country, ebnironment, or what have you.
      They want their profits, and that is that.

      As for this being something that is reserved for unions, etc., this is not reserved for anybody. The Big 3 essentially launched a smear campaign, and the Feds/Conservative Party/IC didn’t like it. I don’t know how much of a vote grab this is, they will gain very few votes with this, if any. It just doesn’t really play weel to voters. mostly because cell phone bills have actually not gone down, and arguably, have increased.

      The Big 3 kknew the rules for the 1700Mhz spectrum going in. They knew most of the rules governing the 700 MHz spectrum going in a couple of years ago, too. They didn’t have a problem with either set of rules until they were enforced (as in the 1700MHz spectrum rules), or Verizon started to make some noise (in the case of the 700 MHz spectrum auction currently in progress). All of the carriers, new or existing knew of all of these rules going in.

      The use or lose licenses that I would put in would be for ALL carriers. It would not be a rule change, due to there were no such rules in place when the Big 3 were given (NOTE: GIVEN did not buy) their 850 and 1800/1900 MHz licenses. They don’t have any initial investment in the specturm at all. In fact, I can argue the point that they don’t have any investment at all in their entire 850 Mhz & 1800/1900 MHz networks at all, considering that subscribers were paying “network improvement fees” and”network access fees” for upwards of 20 years, with the then governments approval and even encouragement. Essentially, the BIg 3 got thier spectrum for free, imposed separate fees to build out their networks (the subscribers actually paid for the networks), and they still have the audacity to complain about how unfair everything is.

      Now it seems that the gov’t has seen the error of their ways. They are, in very awkward ways, trying to address that, but the Big 3 are bound and determined to keep out competitors.

      Please keep in mind, that in the end, this is a regulated environment. And in that environment, the only entity that writes the rules is the regulator. In Canada, that is IC. They write the regulations regarding the spectrum auction rules. The carriers don’t have to like then, but if they do bid, they have to comply with them.

      Kostas

    • thatguyknows

      Actually they don’t play by the rules. Bell lied on their permit with the City of Kingston when they put cell towers on our bedroom wall.

    • kkritsilas

      And now you know why the tower consultation rules have been put into place.

      Kostas

    • CADDMan71

      FYI, tower consultation is what this law applies to, not installations on buildings. So other than the owners of a strata there is no need to notify anyone. And if said building is home to renters, none of the renters need to be notified, only the owners of the suites.

  • Brandon Roberts

    Was hoping for the 700mhz auction results… boo

    • CADDMan71

      I believe that might be tomorrow.

  • Adam

    Sigh. More opportunities for NIMBY paranoiacs to get in the way of progress.

  • Ry29

    15ft? Never seen a tower so short

    • Chris Johnston

      Typo – it was 15 meters

    • CADDMan71

      a typo would mean a misspelled word. Feet is NOT meters. Clearly has his head somewhere else.

  • duwenbasden

    Soooo… no 700 towers until at least 2017? By that time Asia will be like “LOL look at their 4G.”

    //edit: so 3 years before they lose the rights again? Sounds sensible to me.

    • Ry29

      Existing towers will be reworked to have 700. But for new locations for any tech, it does seem like they are stuck for up to 3 years

    • CADDMan71

      Dude, it’s tower consultation, not ‘what’s to be installed on the tower’ consultation.

  • Peter

    Wow, 3 years to build a tower is crazy. Imagine if they required all energy companies to go through a 3 year review process before actually starting work, they wouldn’t even think about imposing that. Yet they see it reasonable to impose a 3 year limit on new towers, I think the government has gone crazy. Side note, all the towers that need to go up now are mainly for underserved markets, they will be impacted the most by this. The cities that already have towers don’t have to worry, those can simply be upgraded. All in all another government intervention we don’t really need/

    • Delphus

      I don’ts wants no tower in mah cornfield! :-)

    • Peter

      You cant have a cornfield higher than 3 feet sir. we need to hold public and even global consultations. You will pay for thissssss!!

    • Guest

      I think you misunderstood. Before this teleco’s could get a tower location approved, then sit on it for 10…15 years before building it. Shocking those who live in new homes in the area. Now they have up to 3 years maximum to build it before having to go under a review process again.

  • Jay

    This seems like a step backwards… The area I live is dominated by Rogers reception and people around here would like more options. Bell/Telus has a small presense here but reception is holding many people back from making the switch.
    If all towers have to go through a government approval process, this will just slow down and give the carriers excuses to not have towers in areas that would benefit consumers…
    I propose a vote that the CRTC takes over ownership and mainenance of towers and allows ALL carriers access. Each carrier pays the CRTC based on their subscriber base to help pay for the costs associated to tower builds and maintenance.

    • Philosoraptor

      Because both Bell and Telus offer something radically different from Rogers.

    • Jay

      I agree. The service being offered is different. But Bell and Telus are already sharing their towers by using the same signal with different encoding. If all towers were CRTC controled, each carrier would be able to broadcast their encoded signal from the same antenna.

    • Who Needs Facts

      Jay – you are saying you want a crown corporation running the backbone of the Canadian WIreless Industry? Really?

      Because the government has shown it can run what facet of its business efficiently?

    • Giordano Bruno

      True, that would probably be even worse… :(

    • Jay

      I think it’s fair to say that the current system is just as broken as it would be if it were run by the CRTC.
      That said, maybe a new public company could be created to oversee it all? This way, any big changes need to be run through the shareholders first?
      I am not an industry man. Nor do I claim to truely understand the politics behind how to best screw a customer… But I do believe there needs to be some MASIVE changes in the mobile industry in Canada (maybe even on a global scale) to start making this neccessary technology more accessable to everyone.

    • Who Needs Facts

      T-Mobile in the US sold the right to lease and operate its towers to third party. The company (Crown Castle) owns and or operates 32,000 towers on behalf of many carriers.

      This may be what is needed here to reduce the amount of towers and to provide tower access to all carriers.

  • ItsaRyan

    So… New entrants will have to wait 3 years to start building? Or buy another established company? What the hell kind of competition is that?

    • Peter

      well new entrants haven’t really built any new towers they just pay a fee and piggy back off the established carriers. But for those in remote areas who need coverage, this is a shot in the gut. Such a stupid move by the government.

    • Darren Lelievre

      They don’t have to wait 3 years they have to get consent from the community and then build the tower within 3 years if they don’t they have to regain consent from community again.

    • John

      No, they have to build it in 3 years. Before this, telco’s could get a tower location approved and sit on it for 10… 15 years before building it. Now they have to build it in 3 years or else they’ll have to go under a review process again.

  • Who Needs Facts

    I’m sure the municipalities have all sorts of resources sitting around with nothing to do but hold consultations with carriers. And deal with legal battles and consumer complaints when people start bitching about their service and are referred to city hall by the Telcos.

    I wonder if they were even notified that they were now the regulators of where a tower can be placed?

    The government regulation on this industry while environmental issue of the oils sands and pipelines go unmentioned is mind boggling.

    • kkritsilas

      You are right. Let the telco’s build towers wherever they want. As long as it isn’t in your back yard, or lowers your properly values, its fine. Right? People have been clamoring for public consultations for years here in Calgary. Gov’t gives it to us, and you are complaining? And what do the municipalities have to do with this, the consultations will be held with the Telcos footing the bill, with perhaps one municipal and or IC representative present.

      And what do regulations about the wireless industry have to do with the oil sands and/or environment? Appears you are not a fan of the current government, but please make some sort of attempt to stay on topic.

      Kostas

    • Who Needs Facts

      The problem is not the consultation, it is he feds getting into the middle of it is the problem.What value will they add?

      When a tower is to be built a business license and building permit are obtained from the municipality. It is the city that says yay or nay to the license.

      All this does is add cost with the illusion that the Feds actually have input.

      Regarding the oil/gas industry I was speaking to there being little to no interference by the government by way of evolving regulations – much to the chagrin of many Canadians.

      As for this government – the next election will be the first one I ever not voted PC or Conservative. This particular bunch are liars, thieves or both.

    • kkritsilas

      Cities/municipalities issue permits for all construction, whether there is public consultation or not. A tower will need a permit, as they did before public consultation was made mandatory, the consultation process only has public input as to where it is to be built, or sometimes not be built. Makes very little difference to the city as to whether a public consultation was carried out or not. Currently, for all towers below 15 Meters (not feet), the carriers get a permit from the city, but the city has pretty much no choice about giving them one, as the carriers are a federally regulated industry and corporation, and they cities really don’t have any choice. For the same reason, the Feds needed to get involved because it it s federally regulated industry. Feds don’t have input, the local residents do. The Feds needed to change the regulations to all of this local input.

      As for the oil and gas industry, you have not the slightest clue about what you are talking about. The telcos have it easy compared to the oil and gas industry. The regulations regarding oil and gas are easily five times the size of the ones covering the telcos, if not even bigger, and this is for conventional gas and oil, they are about 4 X again bigger for the oil sands operations. I have seen both sides; I used to work for Nortel’s cellular base station business (CDMA. CDMA2000, GSM and HSDPA), and now work for an oil & gas services company. If you are concerned about heavy regulations killing profits and productivity, don’t look at the wireless industry, look at the oil & gas industry. In this instance (oil & gas regulations, you plainly don’t know what you are talking about. Learn the facts, don’t rely on biased environmentalists to get your information.

      Kostas

    • Who Needs Facts

      The difference now is that all applications will be meaningfully arbitrated by the municipality.

      Where as before the municipality had no choice but to rubber stamp the applications, now they have been made decision makers on every application.

      For example, if Bell wants to put up a 10 foot tower in the back of one of their compounds, or on the side of a Walmart, the protocol now will be to personally canvass all nearby residents and stakeholders, the municipality (or LUA) and begin a consultation with the three.

      This is onerous to Bell yes, but also to the LUA. who previously was left out, right or wrong, of the picture.

      Regarding oil and gas – I should not rely on an environmentalist for my information but I should rely on someone that presently works in the oil and gas field.

      Right. Lets just agree to disagree on that one.

    • thatguyknows

      Bell used our bedroom wall to mount towers.

    • kkritsilas

      We have a rail yard in Calgary that is in the middle of a residential area. They run trains in the middle of the night, they assemble trains at night, the do heavy mechanical work at night. They have a public consultation, and they agree to not do locomotive work at night. Doesn’t matter, they don’t use locomotives to move the rail cars around, and they work on the rail cars as much as they want. Still compliant to the public consultation agreement. And if they didn’t, who would enforce it? The cops can’t, the city can’t and neither can the province, because they fall under Federal jurisdiction.

      The same rail company sometimes assembles trains during rush hour on some of th busiest streets in Calgary. It isn’t enough that the train interrupts traffic flow, they actually start off going in one direction (which would be OK, as the train will eventually end and traffic can proceed), but sometimes, they stop, back up, and then go forwards again. I have personally seen this happen 4 times during one traffic intereruption. Total: over 30 minutes. NOBODY can do a thing about it. NOBODY. Because they are federally regulated. The Telcos operate the same way.

      Kostas

  • Darren Lelievre

    I believe it means that they have 3 years to build the tower after they get the community to approve of the tower site. Its to stop companies from gaining a bunch of tower sites then sitting on them.

  • Who Needs Facts

    From 2012 regarding a PM bill from NDP to regulate towers

    Conservative MP Chris Alexander had said the NDP bill “would duplicate existing regulatory requirements” and “impose an additional regulatory and administrative burden on everyone without any discernible benefit.”

    “When government gets in the way of private enterprise, when government makes a sector less efficient or less productive, it affects everyone,” he said.

    “It raises the costs of telecommunications and we do not want to allow that to happen any more than it already has.”

    The new found “Consumers first” stance by the government is nothing but a sham to buy votes suckers, and as Conservative so correctly stated, the only thing that is going to happen is your bill is going to go up.

    • DrWhoWhat

      Rogers? Is that you?

    • Who Needs Facts

      Nice contribution DrWho.

      I can’t figure out why the Conservatives think their buy a vote scheme will work.

    • DrWhoWhat

      I would probably lean toward the side of anyone that wants to beat up on the Telcos. That doesn’t mean I support them in anything other than that.

    • Who Needs Facts

      Ok fair enough. At least we agree that the government is trying to beat up on the Telcos.

  • Ben Dover

    Your story states “15 feet”, the current standard is 15 metres.

  • Leaf Nation

    James Moore is “on the money”! The Telcos themselves did this to themselves by erecting towers just shy of the previous 15′ height limit. Bravo James!!!!!

  • thatguyknows

    Bell Canada and Homestead Land Holdings installed towers on our bedroom wall 5 feet from my children with no warning or consultation whatsoever. Clearly this is not right.

    • Who Needs Facts

      Agreed.

      But, the new rules need to state “before installing an antenna there is to be consultation” to be effective in preventing this.

      Installing a tower and installing an antenna are two different animals and you can be sure that if the regulations are not clear the telcos will take the path of least resistance.

    • Guest

      Why? Does the tower hurt you at night?
      Also, if its not your land or house, its not your right to say what can and cannot be built.

    • DrWhoWhat

      So I can put up a giant billboard in your neighbour’s front yard then. You won’t mind what it does to your property value. Awesome.

  • HC

    Ok, so here we go again…this is the same argument that started in the 9′s with Clearnet (The Future is Friendly), Microcell (Fido) Rogers, Bell and Telus. it al comes back to NIMBY! I recall securing a tower agreement with a Land Owner in Southern Alberta and when my RF Engineers determined the Site across the Highway was a better candidate the original Land Owner went directly to the Municipality to protest as he was no longer going to receive the $5000/YR revenue. stating the Tower would obstruct his view (of the Highway :-)). Another interesting note was Mackenzie in Calgary where Clearnet was trying to obtain approval for a tower and was following the consultation process yet 3 doors down from my backyard a Home Owner erected a tower wit a 600 square foot antenna for his Ham Radio, double standard?
    Does anyone know if this apply to Towers within a specific distance of Homes or any new Tower period?

  • CADDMan71

    News flash people, if the local municipality already had a bylaw in place mandating the telcos perform public consultation on towers less than 15m (not 15 feet as Ian mistyped above) then this new federal law is redundant. Although the requirement to build said tower within 3 years of it’s approval is new.
    There are a number of municipalities here in BC that already have the <15m rule in place that Bell/Telus/Rogers/et al have had to abide by.
    Funny, when the initial federal rule was put in place I remember working with the Telcos and saying to them 'Just design a site that's 14.9m tall and you don't need to do consultation'. BTW, that same prior law also allowed for a 25% increase of existing structures without consultation (for example, extending a 30m tower to 37.5m) which I know Telcos took into consideration when designing new sites. I'm curious if the new law maintains that 25% rule or not?

  • Jerome

    Please correct its 15 Meters not feet.cpc-2-0-03

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