OTTAWA, August 20, 2019 – On Monday morning, Bell Canada released a statement saying it would reduce its rural broadband investments by 20% following the CRTC’s decision last week to reduce the wholesale rates charged by the incumbent internet service providers to small, independent ISPs. The CRTC found that the large ISPs have been overcharging small providers by as much as 77% since 2016.
In response to yesterday’s announcement, CIRA’s President and CEO Byron Holland had this to say:
“We are disappointed that Canada’s incumbent telecommunications providers are threatening to leave rural internet users behind in response to last week’s CRTC decision. After finding that the incumbents had been overcharging small providers since 2016, the Commission adjusted the tariffs to ensure the sustainability of smaller, independent ISPs who are eager to sell services to users and businesses across the country. This decision was a welcome step towards promoting greater competition in Canada’s broadband market.
But the CRTC also has a responsibility to ensure that rural Canadians have access to internet services that meet the Commission’s basic service standards. Companies like Bell have benefited from decades’ worth of public subsidies and protections from competition, and now they’re threatening to abandon rural Canadians because the CRTC is forcing them to compete. If market-based incentives are insufficient to provide rural Canadians with high-quality internet access, then the CRTC has an obligation to step in and make sure it happens. At CIRA we believe in a connected future where everyone in Canada has access to high-quality internet regardless of where they live, and we call on the CRTC and political leaders of all stripes to help ensure that rural internet users don’t get left further behind.”