CRTC revises wholesale prices signaling ‘dark period’

5m | Natalie Bannerman

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada’s regulator, has spoken out against lowering wholesale access prices for small businesses.

The news follows the CRTC’s April decision in which it said Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus (known as the Big Three) must allow MVNOs to wholesale access to their networks.

At the time, it was confirmed that wholesale rates will be negotiated between providers, while the terms will be set by the CRTC.

Indeed, this latest decision will allow the Big Three to charge rates similar to the prices initially set in 2016 for wholesale access to their broadband networks and effectively cancels a 2019 decision – which was still under appeal – which would have forced the large telecom operators to lower their wholesale rates and make retroactive payments to small businesses.

For years, Canadian consumers have complained about high mobile phone bills, which are among the highest in the world. In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government pledged to act if major domestic suppliers do not cut these costs by 25%.

Since this news was announced, the CRTC has faced many negative reactions, some even calling for the dismissal of Ian Scott, Chairman of the CRTC. Specifically, TekSavvy, an Internet service provider, confirmed that it is seeking the ruling directly from the federal government to overturn the ruling.

“I never seriously heard of this scenario, and I never really thought they would,” Andy Kaplan-Myrth, vice president of regulatory and carrier affairs at TekSavvy, told Reuters.

He described the decision as “a headstone on the grave of telecommunications competition in Canada”.

Later in a statement, Kaplan-Myrth commented: “The CRTC’s disregard for both its own Cabinet mandate, as well as the Prime Minister’s Office mandate, clearly shows that the CRTC has actively undermined the program and this government’s promises to Canadians, ”said Kaplan -Myrth.

“The CRTC ignored Cabinet directives to it and put the interests of the major incumbent telecommunications providers above the interests of Canadians.”

Michael Geist, an Internet law expert at the University of Ottawa, described the ruling as a “dark period” for small telecommunications companies,Elsewhere, Laura Tribe, Managing Director of OpenMedia, said: “The CRTC itself actively recognizes how concentrated the market is, and yet its decisions continue not only to maintain the status quo, but to tip the scales further. more in favor of large telecommunications companies.

At present, the Big Three 89.2% of subscribers and 90.7% of the revenues of the Canadian telecommunications industry.

OpenMedia, a Canadian telecommunications advocacy group, recently expressed its opposition to the proposed $ 26 billion merger between Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications.

On behalf of its 6 civil society organizations, OpenMedia published a joint statement Call on the federal government to stop Rogers from buying Shaw. They also launched a petition which has already accumulated more than 23,330 signatures (as of 01.06.21).

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