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Bell turns its back on rural Canada, rescinding broadband investment promises

CRTC and federal government must back smaller, local providers to ensure connectivity for every person in Canada

AUGUST 19, 2019 — Today Bell Canada announced that it will be reducing its investment in rural broadband Internet by 20%, leaving up to 200,000 households behind. The announcement comes on the heels of last week’s CRTC decision that found telecom incumbents, including Bell, have been grossly overcharging smaller providers for wholesale access to broadband Internet. The decision saw the rates Bell and others are allowed to charge reduced up to 77%.

In response, OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe had this to say:
“It’s completely appalling to see Bell turn its back on rural Canada any time it doesn’t get its way. Last week’s CRTC decision found that Bell had been unfairly lining its pockets at the expense of its competitors for years. In exchange for getting caught, the company has decided to withhold the connectivity of 200,000 Canadian households. Today’s announcement is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at bullying.”

Tribe continued, “Bell is one of Canada’s largest companies, and has received decades of support and subsidies – and it’s time for that to come to an end. Bell’s withdrawal from these markets is an incredible opportunity for the CRTC and federal government to break up Big Telecom’s stronghold, and truly introduce choice and competition. Through the CRTC’s broadband fund, and federal government funding committed through both ISED and Rural and Economic Development, there are billions of dollars in investment for rural connectivity – and not a cent should be squandered on Bell, who has demonstrated it will simply turn its back on people in Canada any time it doesn’t get its way. Government investment must explicitly support smaller, local companies who are committed to the regions they serve. Every single person in Canada must have affordable connectivity, and we can’t and won’t just sit around and wait for Big Telecom to make it happen.”

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