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CRTC extends competition protections to broadband Internet competitors

Competitor Quality of Service Regime decision a step towards ensuring lower prices in wireline sector by increasing fairness for indie Internet Service Providers, but misses opportunity to do the same for wireless

April 13, 2018 – This morning, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released the results of its proceeding examining the Competitor Quality of Service (CQoS) regime. The decision shifts the focus of wholesale quality of service regulation towards broadband services, and furthers the CRTC’s role in protecting quality and choice in our Internet services.

“Today’s decision is an important step towards ensuring our future high speed Internet access is not held captive by anti-competitive practices of incumbents,” said OpenMedia’s digital rights advocate Katy Anderson. “For too long, the CQoS regime has been limited to a small number of increasingly outdated services, and did not address future technologies, like broadband, that Canadians are becoming increasingly reliant on for their daily lives. This is an important move to level the playing field.”

Anderson continued, “However, despite extending the application of the regime on wireline, the problems with Canada’s mobile services have been ignored yet again. This is another missed opportunity by the CRTC to increase choice in our wireless market, and improve the conditions for competitors to the entrenched players to be treated fairly. The CRTC asserts that there are no notable competitor quality of service issues to be addressed on mobile — perhaps this is because there is virtually no competition to be served?”

OpenMedia’s submissions to the proceeding recommended the Commission take three key steps to improve the Competitor Quality of Service regime, and prevent undue discrimination against smaller providers:

  1. Include wholesale high-speed access services in the CQoS regime;

  2. Apply the CQoS regime to cable carriers; and

  3. Update the regime to include mobile wireless services.

In the first line of its decision, the CRTC points to Canadians’ reliance on mobile: “The Commission determines that changes are required to the current competitor quality of service (Q of S) regime in order to reflect the evolving telecommunications market as Canadians are becoming increasingly reliant on broadband and mobile wireless services.”

Yet the CRTC’s decision does not extend to mobile wireless services at a time where Canadians mobile data usage is skyrocketing, with average mobile use increasing 25 per cent year-over-year. Canadians also pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for wireless services.

The federal government has also said, through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, that Canada’s high Internet prices are “unacceptable.”  

But disappointingly, last month, the CRTC rejected an opportunity to address high cell phone bills by closing the door on Wi-Fi first mobile virtual network operators.

Already more than 9,500 Canadians have called on Minister Bains at https://act.openmedia.org/MoreChoice to step in to address the lack of competition and affordability in our wireless markets. Without creating the environment for new entrants to the market to be treated fairly, the chances for increased choice in Canada seem slim.

In addition, more than 7,000 Canadians called on the CRTC to create and update rules to give independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) an equal opportunity at: https://act.openmedia.org/FairISPs.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.

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