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November 6, 2023 5:49 pm  #1

CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

Whenever the CRTC announces it's changed its regular daily update from 11 AM to 4:30 PM, you know something's up. (They're often waiting for the stock markets to close.) Which brings us to Monday afternoon, and a delayed Commission announcement about a new plan to force fibre-connected Internet companies like Bell to allow competition onto their networks. 

It's the result of a series of hearings that gave the Commissioners an earful about a lack of competition for Internet access across the country and the gradual disappearance of independent (and by extension, cheaper) providers. After looking at the input from the public, they arrived at a plan of action:

"On a temporary and expedited basis, the CRTC is providing competitors with a workable way to sell Internet services using the fibre-to-the-home networks of large telephone companies in Ontario and Quebec, where competition has declined most significantly.

The CRTC is also setting the interim rates that competitors will pay when selling services over these fibre-to-the-home networks. These rates were chosen to allow Canada’s large Internet companies to continue investing in their networks to deliver high-quality services to Canadians."

Sounds good, but the devil is in the details, and I'm curious what those "rates" are and how high they might be that will still allow continued investment in these high speed delivery services. Also, why is it only "temporary?" I'm waiting for more details before seeing this as a good thing, but on the surface of it, it sounds OK so far. But it won't be in effect for another six months, to allow the companies to "prepare their networks," whatever that means. 

CRTC Press Release


November 6, 2023 6:48 pm  #2

Re: CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

Here's the Canadian Press version of the story, complete with an outrageous statement from Bell CEO Mirko Bibic, the company bound to lose the most from this decision. He's previously threatened any such move would prevent his company from expanding into under served areas, a common threat from an exec who knows the CRTC is worried about that very thing.

He incredulously claims his company's presence in a neighbourhood with its Fibe service actually increases competition.

"...when we enter a community with fibre, we actually increase competition … The customer gets better service, better value, lower prices and that’s what’s being put at stake here with the conversation that we’re generally having in the regulatory proceedings.”

How, Bell provides "lower prices" isn't exactly clear. 

CRTC allows smaller internet companies to sell service over telecoms’ fibre networks

     Thread Starter

November 6, 2023 7:04 pm  #3

Re: CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

One last interesting reaction from Open Media, an advocacy group for consumers. They say it's a good start, but remind that it won't bring back the independent ISPs who've already either been bought by the big guys - or gone out of business. And that it's ultimately not a perfect solution. 

"Today’s decision should be a lifeline for small ISPs– but it comes so late, most have already sunk," said Matt Hatfield, Executive Director of OpenMedia. "Fibre internet is the high speed Internet gold standard Canadians now demand, and the CRTC’s indifference to that reality has led to most small ISP players being edged out or absorbed by telecom giants over the last few years. And that means higher internet prices and less innovation for Canadians in our essential service telecom sector, despite the fact that we already pay some of the highest prices in the world.”

CRTC’s stop-gap fibre decision is a small step forward for affordable Internet

     Thread Starter

November 6, 2023 7:24 pm  #4

Re: CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

Yes, Bell can provide a competitive, lower cost to the consumer, for a short period.

I was paying Rogers over $2,000 per year for a "bundle" (TV, internet & home phone).

Then, Bell installed fibre with their "new customer" discounts.  I switched and saved roughly $1,500 over 18 months.  After 18 months the Bell cost had crept up to that of Rogers.

Now my "savings" are zero, but yes, I am happy with the service.

In 2022 I spent $2,200 with Bell for a "bundle" (TV, internet & home phone) - no cell phones in the package.

By contrast here is what I spent with other important utilities:

Water $440
Natural Gas $1,800
Hydro $1,400

Fibre to the home.   Not a bad business to be in.



November 6, 2023 8:56 pm  #5

Re: CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

Well, that didn't take long. Like a petulant child that didn't get his own way, Bell has decided to give the middle finger to the CRTC, promptly announcing after the decision on Monday, that it would be cutting its investment in fibre delivery of the Internet by millions of dollars - the one thing it knew the Commission didn't want. 

"Bell today announced its intention to reduce capital expenditures by over $1 billion in 2024-25, including a minimum of $500 to $600 million in 2024, money the company had planned to invest in bringing high-speed fibre Internet to hundreds of thousands of additional homes and businesses in rural, suburban and urban communities..."

Rolling back fibre network expansion is a direct result of the CRTC's decision."

That investment was something the CRTC had counted on to bring high speed Internet to areas of the country that aren't able to access it, or have to settle for slower speeds.  

Bell to cut capital expenditures and reduce high-speed fibre Internet expansion due to CRTC decision that discourages network investment 

     Thread Starter

November 8, 2023 8:47 pm  #6

Re: CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

I actually thought my provider, TekSavvy, would be happy with this CRTC decision.

Turns out, they're not pleased at all, calling it "flawed."

Here's why.

     Thread Starter

November 16, 2023 2:16 pm  #7

Re: CRTC: Bell Fibe & Others Will Have To Allow Discount Competition

Well, that didn't take long. Bell has now filed a court appeal of the CRTC decision to force independent ISPs to be able to access its fibre networks at a discounted rate. Hands up anyone who is surprised.

"Bell says the CRTC committed an error of law by applying the wrong legal tests to arrive at its decision, and that it adopted a procedurally unfair process in failing to inform affected stakeholders of the test it did use.

"Bell said it would be harmed through the loss of customers and revenues, the reallocation of funds from other more “economically beneficial” uses and through unrecoverable costs to implement the fibre services."

Bell Canada to seek appeal of network sharing ruling by CRTC

     Thread Starter