TORONTO: Canada’s telecommunications regulator announced Thursday that it will not significantly reduce the rates small businesses have to pay to access the broadband broadband networks of big rivals, ending years of legal battles and aimed at increasing competition.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted small businesses access to the networks in 2016 with interim tariffs that they were required to pay to large businesses.
The setup was designed to increase competition in Canada, which has some of the highest internet and cell phone bills in the world, according to government studies.
The Canadian telecommunications industry is dominated by Telus, Rogers and BCE, which account for 89.2% of subscribers and 90.7% of revenues, according to government figures.
In 2019, the agency agreed to lower rates, but the decision never came into effect due to legal challenges from larger companies. Thursday’s decision means the original 2016 rates remain in effect, with a few small adjustments.
“The CRTC, headed by a former vice-president of Telus, has just given a giant middle finger to consumers, independent ISPs (Internet service providers) and the competition, and has given carte blanche to Bell, Rogers and al. kindly, endlessly, ”said Peter Nowak, vice president of TekSavvy Solutions Inc, on Twitter.
Bell, as it is known as BCE, said it was satisfied with the CRTC’s “positive decision”.
Telus and Rogers were not immediately available for comment.
François-Philippe Champagne, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said the government “will review the decision and its implications to ensure they align with our policy priorities of accessibility, competition and innovation in the sector “.