First, a quick refresher on what wholesale rates are, and how they impact our access to the Internet.
Wholesale rates refer to the prices that smaller, independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Teksavy, Distributel and EBOX have to pay big ISPs like Bell and Rogers to access their networks. This arrangement was created to prevent small providers from duplicating existing networks, and to guarantee that we as customers have access to multiple service providers.
Because Big Telecom has no desire to sell to these smaller providers however, the CRTC calculates a fair wholesale rate that allows smaller providers to compete, all while providing a healthy rate of profit to Big Telecom companies that own the infrastructure.
In 2019, the CRTC completed years of analysis, and lowered wholesale rates from the levels they had been set in 2016, also ruling that small ISPs would be owed hundreds of millions of dollars in back payments for what they’d been overcharged since then.3 Many small ISPs immediately passed those savings on to their users, lowering Internet prices and driving up competition across the country.4,5
Flash forward to 2021, where the CRTC has just pulled a nonsensical reversal and tossed all of its own work out the window!
On May 27, it rejected its own 2019 rates, instead opting to return to the extraordinarily high 2016 rates in a move that will inevitably see Internet prices surge and smaller providers struggle to survive.6
This is the most anti-customer decision OpenMedia has ever seen from the CRTC. Something stinks here — and it smells like a regulator that’s been captured by corporate interests.
This wholesale rates debacle isn’t the only example of the CRTC’s relentless support of telecom giants over the public interest. Under its current leadership, the Commission has:
- Rejected introducing new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) — low-cost alternative providers — to Canada. Instead, the April 2021 decision doubled down on our current dysfunctional cell phone market.7
- Shrugged its shoulders and took no action after acknowledging Big Telecom’s misleading and shady sales tactics. The CRTC had to be ordered by the government to even look at the issue.8,9
- Delayed the deployment of fibre wholesale access so long that six years after announcing it, we still don’t have access. The delay has blocked much-needed choice and affordability for fibre Internet.10
Cabinet already mucked up the wholesale rates situation once, when they vaguely ordered the CRTC to find “balance” in the rates last August.11 This outcome is anything but balanced. The CRTC just demonstrated what ambiguity means to them: A free pass to make Big Telecom’s wildest policy dreams come true.
Cabinet has a responsibility to every person in Canada to clearly and decisively fix this mess — NOW.
The CRTC is supposed to rein in Big Telecom and even the playing field for Internet users; but instead, it’s brazenly tipping the scales in favour of the giants. We can’t stand by while the CRTC condemns Canada to decades more of Big Telecom’s price gouging. Sign the petition RIGHT NOW demanding Cabinet overturn the CRTC’s wholesale decision and permanently lock in the lower 2019 rates!