An Ottawa-based digital rights group says a federal regulator is the “biggest barrier to affordable internet in Canada.”
In one online petition, OpenMedia claimed that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission “just screwed up Canadians” by allowing big companies like Bell and Rogers to return to “an oppressive level of 2016 [wholesale] rates”.
The petition, which has drawn more than 23,000 signatures, asks the federal cabinet to bypass the CRTC.
The regulator’s May 27 decision means small internet service providers, including Teksavy, Distributel and EBOX, have to pay much higher wholesale fees to telecom giants to access their networks.
According to OpenMedia, this “will inevitably see Internet prices rise and small providers struggle to survive.”
“This is the most anti-client decision OpenMedia has ever seen from the CRTC,” he said. âSomething stinks here and it smells like a regulator that has been captured by corporate interests. “
The CRTC’s review came after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to grant leave to appeal to Bell and Rogers seeking a judicial review of the CRTC’s 2019 wholesale rate decision.
The recent CRTC ruling amended the 2019 order to reduce wholesale fees.
The regulator said that in reviewing the previous ruling, it found that there was “substantial doubt as to the accuracy of the aggregated HSA [high-speed access] service rates “.
âThe Commission’s overall approach to regulating wholesale services has been to promote facilities-based competition to the extent possible,â said the regulator. âFacilities-based competition, in which competitors primarily use their own telecommunications facilities and networks to compete instead of leasing them to other operators, is generally considered to be the most sustainable form of competition.
Canada already has some of the highest internet rates in the world, as shown in the graph below by Visual Capitalist.
Higher tariffs come at the right time for telecom giants
Earlier this month, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. said they will rely on Nokia and Ericsson to provide equipment for their next-generation 5G wireless networks. Rogers made a similar announcement in 2018.
Canada is under pressure from its allies, including the United States, not to allow Huawei equipment in its 5G networks due to national security concerns.
Last September, Reuters reported that the federal government was sending signals that it might not compensate telecom giants who were already spending huge sums on Chinese firm Huawei’s technology on 5G networks.
âIn a February 2019 filing, Telus said that an uncompensated ban could increase the cost of its 5G network deployment and make services more expensive for consumers,â Reuters correspondent David Ljunggren wrote.
According to a 2018 Globe and Mail report Relying on anonymous sources, Bell is said to have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to install Huawei equipment in its network. The same article noted that Telus reportedly spent between $ 500 and $ 1 billion.
Therefore, it could collectively cost more telecom giants more than $ 1 billion to have to tear up that Huawei gear if Ottawa imposed a ban.
Without federal compensation, the recent CRTC decision could be useful to them by helping to offset this expense.