Big Telecom asks Trudeau to reject affordable Internet
Incumbents’ tantrum over fair wholesale rates continues with petition to Governor in Council
November 13, 2019 — Today Bell has asked the Trudeau government to overturn the CRTC’s August decision that lowered wholesale Internet rates and reimbursed smaller providers for being grossly overcharged for years. If the Trudeau government were to overturn the CRTC’s decision, it would dramatically impact the future of competition in Canada’s Internet market, and the fate of smaller Internet providers.
After the CRTC’s August decision with the final wholesale rates was announced, a number of smaller providers immediately passed the savings on to their customers, demonstrating the clear connection between fair rates and affordable Internet. Today’s filing shows just how desperate incumbents are to maintain their stronghold over the marketplace, at any cost.
A petition to the Governor in Council is a “relatively seldom-exercised governmental appeal procedure” – but one that Big Telecom has tried to use before. Immediately following the last federal election, Bell used the same tactic to try and overturn the CRTC’s decision to require it to provide wholesale access to smaller providers for next-generation fibre Internet. In that case, the government made the right decision, and rejected the outrageous request, with the support of almost 80,000 Canadians who spoke out against the appeal. OpenMedia is optimistic that the same conclusion will be made again here.
“This is just ridiculous. First Big Telecom threw a temper tantrum, threatening to punish rural residents with bad Internet. Then they appealed to the federal court. Now they’re using an obscure rarely used appeal procedure to ask cabinet for a ‘do over’? The whole thing reeks of desperation,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe.
Tribe continued, “Big Telecom’s already tried this play before, right after the last election – and the government rightly rejected it, recognizing it for what it was: a desperate move with no standing. Since then, the government has issued a new policy direction for the CRTC focusing on customers and affordability, and even more recently made promises during the election to bring more affordable Internet services to Canadians. Big Telecom’s move today completely ignores the way the winds are blowing. The time for affordable Internet in Canada is coming, and they need to get on board, or get out of the way.”