The latest Canadian telecommunications regulator ruling means a “dark period” for small businesses

The latest Canadian telecommunications regulator ruling means a “dark period” for small businesses

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Audiences holding their mobile phones towards the stage at the iHeartRadio Match Music Video Awards (MMVA) on August 26, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. REUTERS / Fred Thornhill

Critics argue that two recent decisions by Canadian telecommunications regulators have frozen competition in the country’s highly concentrated industry, making it even more difficult to reduce prices for mobile and Internet services. doing.

Canadian consumers have been complaining about the world’s highest mobile phone charges for years, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal government will take action if providers fail to cut bills by 25%. I threatened to wake you up.

On Thursday, the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) determined that small businesses would not significantly reduce the fees they would have to pay to access large competitors’ high-speed broadband networks, including BCE Inc. Did. (BCE.TO), Telus Corp (T.TO) And Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO), Known as the Big Three.

In April, CRTC called on major carriers to provide wholesale wireless access to so-called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). However, there are some provisions that are considered a victory for large corporations.

The two decisions were aimed at fostering competition, but critics say they only alienate small players.

Thursday’s ruling will allow major carriers to charge wholesale access to broadband networks at prices similar to those initially set in 2016. The decision overturns the still-appeal 2019 ruling to force large carriers to reduce wholesale rates and retroactively pay small businesses.

With Thursday’s ruling, retroactive payments will be much less.

TekSavvy, an Internet service provider with approximately 300,000 subscribers across Canada, said it has petitioned the federal government directly to overturn CRTC’s decision on broadband access charges. He also calls on CRTC Chair Ian Scott to be removed from his position.

Andy Kaplan-Myrth, vice president of TekSavvy, told Reuters, “I’ve never heard this scenario seriously discussed. He described the ruling as” the tombstone of Canada’s telecommunications competition. ” ..

Big Three operators dominate 89.2% of subscribers and 90.7% of revenue in the Canadian telecommunications industry. Lawmakers and analysts warn that concentration will only increase if Rogers’ planned $ 16 billion acquisition of Shaw Communications, Inc. is approved. read more

Falling short

As a result of the broadband ruling, TekSavvy said it would withdraw from the 3500mHz spectrum auction scheduled for June, the frequency required for 5G deployments, and abandon plans to launch mobile services.

Critics also said that measures to allow MVNOs have not reached the steps necessary to promote fierce competition.

“CRTC itself is positively aware of how concentrated the market is, but their decisions are not only maintaining the status quo, but also slackening in favor of major carriers.” Said Laura Tribe, executive director of the community organization OpenMedia, said the advocate of the affordable and accessible Internet.

In an interview with Reuters, CRTC Chair Scott defended the latest decision, saying, “We make decisions that we believe are balanced and in the public interest.”

Rogers and Tellus did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday’s decision. The BCE said it was happy with the ruling.

Michael Geist, an Internet law expert at the University of Ottawa, said the Trudeau administration has returned a direct approach to the issue (returning the decision to CRTC and refusing to seek important legislation from Innovation Minister Francois Philippe Champagne. The market that the government will not make a strong voice for consumers.

The Champagne office did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but said his office had previously reviewed Thursday’s ruling.

Geist called the current mood a “dark period” for small businesses.

“But obviously, for Big Three,’happy days are here again,’” he added.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The latest Canadian telecommunications regulator ruling means a “dark period” for small businesses

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