Coming changes to wholesale rules could impact fees Canadians pay for wireless

GATINEAU, Que. — Canada’s telecom regulator will issue a decision Tuesday that could affect the fees charged to consumers when they roam with their wireless devices outside of their home network areas.[np_storybar title=”Google just launched Project Fi, a new low-cost wireless service in the U.S.” link=”″%5DGoogle launched a new U.S. wireless service that switches between Wi-Fi and cellular networks to curb data use and keep phone bills low.The service, called Project Fi, will automatically switch between the two networks and more than 1 million open, free Wi-Fi spots, depending on which signal is strongest. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]The ruling from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission comes seven months after hearings were launched into the health of the country’s wholesale wireless market, considered the backbone of Canada’s mobile services sector.Budget measures adopted by the Harper government last year set a cap on wholesale roaming costs — the rates that mobile carriers charge their competitors to use their wireless infrastructure — at no more than what carriers charge their retail customers.The government-imposed cap was intended as a temporary measure that the CRTC could choose to keep, kill or amend. But CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais has noted that the government did not take regional differences into account in its legislation.The CRTC heard that the wholesale rate caps were actually hurting smaller players, and thereby stifling competition, particularly where the major service providers had no firm foothold.Regional carriers asked the CRTC to “fine tune” wholesale rates to ensure they aren’t forced to offer Telus Corp., Rogers Communications Inc., and BCE Inc. use of their networks at a discount.The Competition Bureau also called for new wholesale roaming regulations, arguing that rate caps alone will not foster greater competition.Ottawa’s wireless spectrum auction won’t create fourth carrier because of ‘ridiculous’ rules, expert saysRogers Communications Inc, BCE Inc nearly shut out of wireless spectrum auction because of cap rulesWind Mobile Corp’s new CEO recruits two former teammates from Public MobileThe bureau predicted during the fall hearings that expanded mobile wireless penetration in Canada could drive down retail wireless prices by about two per cent.But Rogers, BCE and Telus maintained that further regulation would hinder their ability to invest in improvements to their own wireless networks.Montreal-based Cogeco Cable Inc., which is hoping to offer wireless services without building its own cell tower network, asked the CRTC to adopt new rules to allow for the creation of what are known as mobile virtual networks (MVNOs), which would effectively give smaller carriers access to large players’ spectrum and cell towers.Cogeco warned that, without regulations, the big players will continue to muscle smaller competitors out of existence. read more

Ethics needs to keep up with economics when it comes to AI

One of the godfathers of modern artificial intelligence suggested Thursday that more attention needs to be paid to the moral framework that governs the use of the burgeoning technology.“In the case of AI, we have scientific leadership. We are trying to also push forward with the AI economy, but we also need to have moral leadership to make sure the technology is used for good for most people,” Yoshua Bengio said during a panel discussion at the Public Policy Forum’s annual Canada Growth Summit.“It’s really important that we do this right, but I’m not sure that we’re doing the right moves.”Bengio’s words carry significant weight in the AI community: The University of Montreal professor is a pioneer in the field and was a recent co-winner of the Turing Award for his work developing deep learning technology. Innovation Nation: AI godfathers gave Canada an early edge — but we could end up being left in the dust Killer robots aren’t just science fiction anymore Three AI godfathers, two of them Canadian, selected for the ‘Nobel Prize of Computing’ Artificial intelligence is already allowing business to drive efficiency and deliver innovative new services, but lately its potential dangers are becoming an increasingly prominent part of the discussion.Tim O’Brien, Microsoft’s general manager of AI programs, also spoke at the conference about ethical AI and the risks posed by the technology.Artificial intelligence generally uses large amounts of data to create algorithms that make automated decisions, and the technology is at the heart of speech recognition, facial recognition, autonomous vehicles and many more emerging technologies.Yoshua Bengio poses at his home in Montreal on November 19, 2016. O’Brien explained that one of the fundamental problems is that the data is biased, and so that bias reproduces itself in the decisions AI systems make.“We have lots and lots of data to work with, more data than we’ve ever seen. It costs nothing to acquire, it costs next to nothing to store,” he said.“The problem is this all comes from us. Everything that we do, the places we go … the movies we stream on the internet, our travel patterns, all of our biases are laid bare through the digital exhaust that we leave behind every single day.”The potential dangers associated with AI goes beyond just bias though; there are also concerns with mass surveillance using the technology and potential military applications.O’Brien said that the rampant excitement around AI has given way to a bit more caution.“I think the unbridled enthusiasm was part of the risk,” he said.“So the skepticism, I would describe as healthy skepticism, because you need to have a balance between the opportunity to change the world in a positive way, and the risk that it could lead us toward a world that we don’t want.”O’Brien said Microsoft has adopted a set of AI principles requiring the company to consider fairness; reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, accountability and transparency.In particular, transparency is a challenge with deep learning.“There’s an inverse relationship between accuracy and transparency (with deep learning). So the more accurate these models are, the blacker the black box becomes,” he said.“In a business context, that transparency is important, just for no reason other than being able to explain why you’re operating how you’re operating as a business.”O’Brien said that there are ways to make AI algorithms more transparent though, and that’s something customers will demand more in the future.“I think the market will decide what’s acceptable, and I think it’s changing toward an environment in which transparency will be demanded, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.• Email: | Twitter: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press read more