Canada Privacy Privacy Deficit

Huge win for Canadians, as Minister Bains rejects Bell Canada’s attempt to block small providers from ultra-fast Fibre Internet

Decision came after nearly 80,000 people spoke out in debate widely seen as litmus test for future of Canadian telecom policy under new federal government

May 11, 2016This morning marks a critical moment for independent, high-speed fibre Internet access in Canada. In a statement released earlier today, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, Navdeep Bains, upheld a landmark CRTC decision that will ensure Canadians can access next generation fibre Internet through a wide range of affordable, independent providers.

Within days of last year’s federal election, Bell filed an appeal with the new government urging it to overturn the CRTC decision. This move sparked a nationwide campaign that saw nearly 80,000 Canadians sign a petition to the minister, alongside high-profile debates at Toronto and Ottawa councils, and interventions from a diverse range of businesses, experts, local governments, and other organizations calling on Minister Bains to reject Bell’s appeal.

“It’s difficult to overstate how important a win this is for the future of Canada’s Internet,” said OpenMedia’s campaigns director Josh Tabish. “For Canadians, this will mean more affordable access to fibre Internet which, outside of Canada, is the Internet of today, not of tomorrow. And it means that our much-needed independent providers can operate fairly on a more level playing field with Canada’s incumbent telcos.”

Tabish continued: “All along we’ve described this as a litmus test for the new minister, and I want to commend him for listening to Canadians and doing the right thing. We know from experience that this won’t be the last time a powerful telecom giant like Bell tries to unfairly tilt the playing field in its favour, and we look forward to working with Minister Bains to ensure that all Canadians can benefit from affordable Internet choice.”

The CRTC’s original decision to ensure independent providers could offer service through fibre networks was announced in July 2015, following a lengthy year-long process that heard from a wide range of industry groups, telecom providers, consumer advocates, and other organizations – including OpenMedia, who participated extensively throughout the original consultation.

Bell filed a petition to Cabinet within days of October’s federal election asking the new government to overturn the CRTC ruling.

If Bell had succeeded, Canadian households and businesses wanting ultra-fast fibre Internet would have been forced to purchase the extremely expensive services provided by Canada’s large providers, instead of through more affordable alternatives. Smaller, affordable independent providers would have found it hard to survive in such a climate.

A total of 79,041 Canadians spoke out through OpenMedia’s Internet Emergency petition as part of this successful campaign, asking Minister Bains to reject Bell’s appeal. OpenMedia also provided a detailed policy submission to Minister Bains to oppose Bell’s appeal in December.

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