Canada Access Internet Choice & Affordability Wireless

Over 50,000 Canadians call on Cabinet to reject Bell Canada’s appeal to gut landmark CRTC decision

OpenMedia and Internet users build definitive case, debunking myths and skewering Bell’s attempts to mislead Canadian policymakers

December 22, 2015 Today OpenMedia released its detailed submission to Cabinet, which asks decision-makers to reject Bell Canada’s appeal of a landmark Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications (CRTC) ruling that set out open access rules for smaller Internet providers to sell services on high-speed fibre networks.

OpenMedia’s 65-page submission details Bell Canada’s attempts to mislead policymakers and everyday Canadians through a rarely-used, little-known procedure to petition the federal Cabinet. The document demonstrates how open access rules play a critical role in driving innovation, investment, and growth in Canada’s telecommunications sector.

“Bell’s appeal to the federal government is a cynical and misleading attempt to play politics with the Internet bills of everyday Canadians. The telecom giant is trying to undercut rules clearly designed to increase choice and affordability for Canadian Internet users,” said Josh Tabish, Campaigns Manager at OpenMedia. “Bell knows that the future of the Internet is fibre – and if it can prevent smaller, affordable players from gaining fair access, it can kill these alternatives and force them out of the market.”

Key arguments of OpenMedia's submission include:

  • Bell’s claims that open access rules will lead reduce investment are contradicted by Telus, Rogers, and Bell’s own announcements of new fibre projects after the ruling.

  • The Royal Bank of Canada, Bell’s largest institutional investor, released a report saying CRTC policy is unlikely to harm investment following the ruling.

  • Despite Bell’s claims, Canada is not a world broadband leader. International data on affordability, speeds, and access to fibre show that we are falling behind.

  • Given the Trudeau government’s commitment to policies that “...increase high-speed broadband coverage and work to support competition, choice and availability of services,” OpenMedia believes Cabinet cannot responsibly overturn this CRTC ruling.

  • Bell’s efforts, if successful, will mean the death of affordable high-speed Internet access for Canadian households and businesses outside the telecom incumbents.

OpenMedia’s comments were submitted for yesterday’s crucial filing deadline for comments to Cabinet, and outline in detail the concerns of over 50,000 Internet users who have spoken out against Bell’s appeal through OpenMedia’s Internet Emergency campaign. The submission is complemented by a letter sent earlier this month from OpenMedia to Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, outlining concerns with Bell's actions

About the Bell’s Petition to the Governor in Council

In July, 2015, the CRTC announced new rules that would require Big Telecom to provide indie access to all fibre internet, similar to what already exists for cable and DSL broadband. However, within 48 hours of the federal election results, Bell filed its request to overturn the ruling. The official 30-day period for public comments on the telecom giant’s petition was initiated upon publication of Bell’s request in the Canada Gazette, and ended December 21, 2015. Cabinet now has one year to respond from the decision being challenged.

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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