Technology & Science

Bell loses CRTC appeal over fibre internet access for competing ISPs

Cheaper fibre internet packages could soon be available to Canadians, after Bell lost a second appeal of a ruling forcing it to sell fibre internet access to independent competitors.

Telecom regulator ruled last July that Bell must sell wholesale high-speed access to competitors

Today's CRTC ruling means independent internet providers will be able to create and sell their own high-speed fibre internet packages that compete with Bell's. (CBC)

Cheaper fibre internet packages may soon be available to Canadians. Canada's telecommunications regulator has reconfirmed that Bell must sell access to its high-speed fibre networks to independent internet providers, opening the door to more competition in high-speed internet packages.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has denied a Bell appeal of its July 2015 decision requiring Bell to provide wholesale access to its fibre networks, it said in a decision Wednesday.

That access would allow independent internet providers, who often can't build their own "last-mile" fibre connections to Canadians' homes, to create and sell their own fibre internet packages that compete with Bell's.

The independent internet providers would still be responsible for building or getting access to other networks to transport data once it gets farther away from Canadians' homes.

Cabinet already rejected appeal

Bell had appealed last year's CRTC decision to both the CRTC itself and the federal cabinet. Navdeep Bains, the minister responsible for the telecom industry, announced in May that the Liberal government had rejected the appeal.

In the CRTC appeal, Bell argued that the regulator's decision was too broad to comply with the government's Canadian telecommunications policy objections, because it doesn't rely enough on and interferes too much with market forces.

However, the CRTC disagreed and said Bell failed to demonstrate that the original decision was wrong.

Bell told CBC News in an email Wednesday that it is studying the decision.

OpenMedia, a Vancouver-based group that advocates for internet users and opposed Bell's appeal, said in a news release that the ruling "ensures Canadians will soon be able to access fibre Internet from a variety of independent providers, who can offer the service at more affordable rates than those available from the large telcos."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.