CRTC Further Delays Affordable Fibre Internet in Canada
New proceeding leaves fibre Internet customers with few options and high prices
June 11, 2020 — Today the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) launched a new proceeding to further examine the configuration for wholesale access to fibre Internet, creating further delays in the much-needed choice and affordability for next-generation fibre. This proceeding continues a process that began in 2013, and was first ruled on in 2015. Yet five years later, customers are nowhere closer to having the choice of fibre providers they were promised.
Despite its clear decision that wholesale access should be available, regulatory proceedings and appeals have meant that customers continue to suffer, as homes with access to fibre have no choice in their provider, resulting in extraordinary prices, and limited choice in plans and services.
“The CRTC has failed Canadians, plain and simple. It has been five years since the CRTC first ruled we deserve choice in fibre providers, and yet here we are in 2020, and small providers are still being shut out from selling affordable fibre services to Canadians. Let’s be honest about what’s happening here: the CRTC is complicit in sanctioning a monopoly on next-generation fibre Internet, making it harder for small providers to stay afloat,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe.
Tribe continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for faster Internet access. But at the speed the CRTC is moving, the only people it’s helping are Big Telecom’s shareholders. It’s incredibly disappointing to see the CRTC restrict choice and affordability at a time when Canadians are eagerly awaiting an announcement on new broadband funding from Minister Monsef’s office. At this point, the question of who will receive the governments’ new investment funding is more critical now than ever. Sooner or later, the handouts to Big Telecom have to stop. Canadians can’t afford to keep paying the price.”
This decision comes on the heels of the courts siding with Big Telecom in delaying the implementation of the CRTC’s decision to lower wholesale rates for non-fibre wireline connections. Last summer, the CRTC set final wholesale Internet rates, which were significantly lower than the inflated interim rates set in 2016. This decision led to an immediate drop in price for thousands of customers of small independent providers.
But through an appeal at the courts, large companies like Bell and Rogers were able to stay the implementation of the new rates. As a result, many of the price drops seen last summer have been rescinded and some independent companies are now struggling to hold on.
The CRTC’s latest decision to delay their ruling on wholesale fibre rates is adding more market uncertainty for small providers and reducing the choice for consumers.
OpenMedia participated in the CRTC’s original fibre wholesale proceeding in 2013, and has long been advocating for more choice of providers, and affordable options.