Court Ruling A Telecoms Win For Canadians

By Ben Hamill - September 14 2020
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Court Ruling A Telecoms Win For Canadians

A recent Federal Court of Appeal dismissal is described not only as being a victory successfully claimed by the country’s smaller independent internet service providers (ISPs), but in actual fact also a massive win for Canadians.

On Friday, the court dismissed appeals applied for by some of the country’s largest cable and telephone companies – appeals relating to the lowering of the wholesale rates large companies are permitted to charge independent internet providers. And according to Matt Stein, chairperson of the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC) and chief executive of Distributel, the ruling settles a longstanding oversight in terms of the ensuring of fair competition and pricing.

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End Of A Monopoly Era In Sight

Canada’s independent ISPs (small and medium-sized) serve approximately one million households making use of either rented or owned telecoms infrastructure. And even though they only serve about one-tenth of the market, many would argue that they (smaller ISPs) provide a pivotal alternative to larger internet and telecoms carriers.

The country’s smaller ISPs’ argument brought before court revolve around a general notion of their being charged excessively high wholesale prices by facilities-based carriers, which in turn become excessively high rates charged to retail customers.

At this present moment, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also happens to be reviewing its own decision regarding the wholesale rates big internet providers are permitted to charge. This following an indication on the part of federal government that it could at some point in the proceedings “step in” in the event of it (government) becoming convinced that the correct balance isn’t being achieved by the national regulator.

A Boost To Telecoms Investments

What had initially prompted several of the country’s big-wig telecoms and cable providers to approach the court in the first place had been an order handed down by the CRTC in terms whereof  providers were instructed to cut their wholesale rates by up to 43 per cent, and direct access rates by up to an incredible 77 per cent.

Sky-high wholesale rates being handed down to independent providers have historically threatened investments in local network infrastructure, the CNOC has said, all of which have had negative effects on ISPs’ abilities to serve especially rural and remote areas of the country.

The Federal Court of Appeal’s most recent ruling is expected to go a long way towards ensuring wider internet access granted to all Canadians both locally situated as well as remote, and at more affordable rates too.

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