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CRTC launches consultations to lower internet prices, boost competition

CRTC consultations on internet competition and prices will look into whether large telecommunications companies should be required to provide access to their fibre-to-home networks. (iStock - image credit)
CRTC consultations on internet competition and prices will look into whether large telecommunications companies should be required to provide access to their fibre-to-home networks. (iStock - image credit)

Canada's telecom regulator is launching consultations on how to boost competition in the internet services market and lower prices.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in a news release that it also would impose a 10 per cent reduction in some wholesale rates, effective immediately.

"The CRTC recognizes its current approach is not meeting its objective of encouraging more competition in the Internet services market," the news release says.

The review will look at the rates internet service providers pay to large telecom companies for network access. It also will look at whether telecom giants should give competitors access to their fibre-to-home networks, which have faster internet speeds.

Comments can be sent via online form, mail or fax on the latter question until April 24, 2023. Comments on all other matters the CRTC is reviewing will be accepted until June 22, 2023.

"The CRTC is taking immediate action to promote competition in the Internet services market. This starts today with a 10 per cent reduction on some wholesale rates," Vicky Eatrides, chair and CEO of the CRTC, said in the news release.

"We look forward to hearing from everyone who will participate in our public proceeding so that we can strike the right balance between lower prices and continued investment in high-quality and reliable networks."

Andy Kaplan-Myrth is vice-president of regulatory and carrier affairs at TekSavvy, a Chatham, Ont.-based telecommunications company. He welcomed the news.

"The CRTC appears to understand that previous decisions have decimated the competitive market for internet services and led to higher prices for consumers," he said in a media statement.

"While additional interim rate reductions are required to have a meaningful impact, we are pleased to see a proper focus and fast-track toward more competition and better prices."

In 2021, the CRTC scrapped a 2019 decision which would have lowered wholesale rates following lobbying from telecom giants Bell and Rogers as well as some regional providers. The companies said the decision would force them to sell at a loss and would threaten expansion of internet infrastructure to rural areas.

The federal government has made universal access to high-speed internet a priority.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne credited the government's new CRTC policy directive with inspiring the consultation. The directive emphasizes consumer rights, affordability, competition and universal access.

"I think the new directive is paying off for Canadians," Champagne said in media scrum Wednesday.

"We've been asking the CRTC to make sure that prices go down, that we have more competition, and that's one of the tools in the toolbox to make sure that we have better prices for Canadians."