Canada Access Internet Choice & Affordability

CRTC upholds Canadians’ right to access fibre Internet through independent providers

Decision will ensure that smaller indie ISPs can offer next generation fibre Internet on a level playing field with the large telcos

June 29, 2016In a major decision announced this morning, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) upheld its landmark July 2015 ruling that independent ISPs should be able to offer next-generation fibre Internet services to Canadian households and businesses. OpenMedia intervened in the appeal, supplying detailed comments to the CRTC as part of Bell Canada, Inc.’s (BCE) application to review and vary the ruling.

Last fall, Bell launched simultaneous appeals at Cabinet and the CRTC to overturn this landmark decision. In May, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains rejected Bell’s appeal, and today the CRTC has also denied Bell’s application to overturn the rules.

Today’s news ensures Canadians will soon be able to access fibre Internet from a variety of independent providers, who can offer the service at more affordable rates than those available from the large telcos. It’s now expected that indie providers will start offering fibre services within the next year or so.

“This is fantastic news for Internet users across Canada,” said Katy Anderson, OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist. “Ensuring Canadians can choose from a range of affordable fibre Internet services will enable far more people to access this important technology — and that’s good for our entire economy. Opening up our fibre networks in this way will prove to be a cornerstone of innovation for decades to come.”

Anderson continued: “While we are disappointed that the Commission did not choose to extend open access rules to costly transport facilities, today’s announcement shows a continued overall commitment to increasing choice and affordability in our Internet market by ensuring fair last-mile access to fibre for small ISPs.”

Bell’s argument that the CRTC’s ruling would disincentivize investment in fibre networks has been thoroughly debunked, not least — as expert Michael Geist points out— by Bell’s comments to its own investors, in which it envisages building out fibre to nine million homes within the next eight to 10 years.

A total of 79,041 Canadians spoke out through OpenMedia’s Internet Emergency campaign, which called for the CRTC’s July 2015 decision to be upheld.

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