Bell complying with CRTC’s wholesale internet policy under federal ruling

12 May 2016

Bell Canada yesterday accepted a federal decision which supports a previous ruling forcing large internet providers to offer access to their high speed infrastructure to smaller rivals at regulated wholesale prices, the Toronto Sun reports. Canada’s largest communications group had asked the government to overrule a July 2015 decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that requires it and other telecoms heavyweights to give independent ISPs access to their advanced networks at a reduced cost; the CRTC will set the prices based partly on cost studies provided by the major telcos, commission spokesperson Patricia Valladao said.

In its appeal, Bell had argued that the regulation would discourage investments in broadband infrastructure, resulting in high speed internet reaching fewer rural communities, whilst its western Canadian-based counterpart Telus shared this viewpoint, claiming that the regulation ‘turns already risky investments into potentially untenable ones’ and would compel it to reconsider the scale and timing of its planned investments. However, the minister responsible for telecoms, Navdeep Bains, disagreed, stating in yesterday’s ruling that middle-class and low-income families need access to affordable high speed internet and the CRTC decision helps fulfil that goal by enabling stronger competition. ‘The decision strikes the right balance between the private sector having incentive to invest and consumers having a competitive choice,’ his statement added. Bell spokesperson Jacqueline Michelis said in an e-mailed response: ‘We’ll abide by the rules and move forward.’