Telecommunications regulator may have erred in decision on wholesale tariff, minister says
The email says the increase is in response to a statement released by the federal cabinet on Saturday regarding the controversial CRTC decision last year to cut wholesale capacity rates by nearly half.
This decision of the CRTC, rendered on August 15, 2019 but put on hold by an appeals court, has been welcomed by independent Internet service providers in Canada, but denounced by large telephone and cable companies who say that the rates would be much too low.
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Saturday’s statement, written by Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, said the reduction in wholesale tariffs could jeopardize investments in Canada’s communications networks, especially in rural and remote areas, which have been in decline. largely run by large companies like Bell Canada and Rogers Communications in partnership with the government.
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TekSavvy accuses these large carriers of threatening to “withhold investments in rural Canada unless they are shielded from competition,” and said Ottawa had “given in” to the demands.
“After 5 years of cost uncertainty, inflated intermediate tariffs and anti-competitive behavior on the part of major carriers, TekSavvy has no choice but to interpret this announcement as an expectation of the government that the prices of detail should be increased, ”he added. to customers said.
A press release issued on Monday in response to the government’s statement used similar language, but did not specify how much prices would be increased.
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The statement released by Bains suggests but doesn’t quite say that the independent regulator needs to rethink how it came to its conclusions after years of study and analysis.
“Based on its review, the (cabinet) considers that the tariffs do not, in all cases, adequately balance the policy objectives of the wholesale services framework and is concerned that these tariffs could undermine investment in high quality networks, especially in rural and remote areas, ”Bains said.
Bell, Rogers and most of Canada’s other major telephone and cable companies argue that the CRTC has exceeded its authority by reducing wholesale capacity rates by up to 43% and access rates by up to 77%.
But their wholesale customers – labeled “resellers” by their detractors and “independent” by their supporters – argue that the CRTC’s decision would end years of overcharging by major carriers and allow them to reduce the retail rates they claim. charge.
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Both sides of the argument have spent the past year lobbying the government, as well as fighting in the Federal Court of Appeal and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC is currently reviewing its own decision.
The government’s statement says it will not interfere in the ongoing CRTC review.
“We encourage all parties to cooperate with the CRTC’s ongoing review of the tariff decision to support a timely conclusion that will provide greater certainty to all parties involved,” said Bains.
Bell said in a statement on Saturday that the CRTC’s decision would set wholesale rates below cost, “which would certainly have had an impact on future investments by companies with facilities like Bell,” especially in rural areas and distant.
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A statement from Rogers Communications said, in part, that “CRTC tariffs do not reflect the true cost of building and expanding Canada’s world-class broadband networks and will impact investment in networks, especially in rural and remote areas where costs are considerably higher.
TekSavvy, Canada’s largest independent Internet Service Provider (ISP), connects its service to existing telecommunications networks owned by companies like Bell, Rogers and Telus across the country.
Canada’s small and medium-sized Internet service providers collectively serve approximately one million households using the infrastructure they own or lease.
TekSavvy has repeatedly argued that the major carriers oppose lower consumer prices in Canada in order to avoid competition.
– With files from the Canadian Press
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