A Major Cable TV Internet Provider’s Bid to Stop Smaller Rivals From Using its Fiber Network Got Rejected





Person using a laptop.

Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has rejected BCE Inc.’s request to pause the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s decision to allow independent companies to sell internet services using fiber networks run by some of the country’s biggest providers. The decision cements Canada’s commitment to expand internet options and drive competition.

The decision comes a day after BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada said it plans to cut 4,800 jobs and cut network spending by $729.39 million by 2025. The company requested a stay of CRTC’s regulatory decision temporarily granting independent internet providers access to big fiber networks in Ontario and Quebec.

CRTC’s decision aims to drive competition in Canada by letting smaller, independent service providers utilize the large fiber network infrastructure of the biggest networks in Canada. CRTC began a five-day hearing on February 12 as part of its review of internet competition.

Last November, the CRTC passed a temporary decision to stimulate competition for internet providers to give Canadians more options when shopping for services. The CRTC determined competition in internet services has declined, especially in Ontario and Quebec, where independent competitors have 47% fewer customers than two years ago. Large internet providers bought out several smaller companies, leaving Canadians with limited options. The decision strives to increase choice and drive affordable options for 5 million Canadian households. 

While CRTC’s decision doesn’t affect Roger Communications, which uses a cable network, it does mean that Canada’s two largest telephone companies, Bell Media and Telus Corp., must let independent providers on their fiber network within six months.

BCE Inc., which owns Bell Media, said the decision is “already having a negative impact” on the company’s infrastructure. The company has appealed to the federal cabinet and is waiting for a decision. It requested a stay of the decision until after the appeal process was complete. 

However, CRTC’s ruling will go ahead as planned and will grant independent providers access in May. This gives Canadians a chance to have a wider selection while choosing a provider and gives smaller, less established companies a chance to gain some footing. BCE Inc. continues to appeal the decision. 

BCE Inc. and CRTC were not available to comment.

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