Bell Canada has released a statement claiming that a regulatory decision to reduce wholesale broadband rates will negatively impact its high speed access network expansion in smaller towns and rural communities, reducing the scope of its current plans in such areas by 20%, or approximately 200,000 households.
On 15 August the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ordered large telcos and cablecos to reduce tariffs for wholesale broadband network services, applicable retroactively back to 2016. Bell estimates that the decision will cost it around CAD100 million (USD75 million). TeleGeography notes that over half a million subscribers to third-party ISPs use Bell’s fixed access network.
Bell’s release highlights that in 2018 it announced the rollout of its new Wireless Home Internet (WHI) service, targeting areas that are difficult to reach with fibre or cable connections, with an original target to deploy WHI to 800,000 small-town households in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada later raised to 1.2 million premises with the help of federal funding. Bell has so far rolled out WHI to more than 130 small communities in Ontario and Quebec. The operator says it will now be forced to reduce the scope of the WHI buildout plan to approximately one million premises.