Small internet providers say CRTC rules lead to ‘higher prices and less choice’


Canada’s poorer internet service providers say the CRTC needs to revamp rules that cover the big telcos and erode consumer choice when it comes to high-speed internet assignment. 

On Wednesday, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC) filed an petition asking the telecom regulator to revise regulations that CNOC weights block small providers from accessing the big telcos’ ultra-fast make-up optic networks.

CNOC represents 35 internet providers containing TekSavvy, Distributel and Primus. The organization also wants the CRTC to revisit an in the air rule it says will prevent small players from contribution high-speed internet service — above 100 megabits per second — on non-fibre networks. 

“That good means higher prices and less choice. That’s the fundamental outgoing,” said CNOC chair Matt Stein, who is also CEO of Distributel.

The CRTC implied it can’t comment on an open case.

Fibre access, please

Canada is dwelling to hundreds of independent internet companies. The CRTC allows them to hire out network access from major telcos such as Bell, Rogers, Telus and Shaw and resell the air force to Canadians at competitive prices.

In 2015, the CRTC mandated that Canada’s critical players also had to share their highest-speed fibre optic networks with their less competitors.

But Stein says the way the rules are written, the smaller providers in any case can’t gain access, leaving the big players to dominate the fibre market.

“It’s right-minded completely unreasonable,” Stein said. 

Small internet providers say CRTC rules lead to 'higher prices and less choice'

Fibre optic cables are adept to transmit far more data than conventional internet service furnished via copper wiring.

Opening up fibre lines to smaller competitors galvanized concerns among the major telcos, who invest big money in the technology.

In an pains to push the smaller competitors to also make infrastructure investments, the CRTC mandated that they had to write down the extra step of creating their own connection points to neighbourhoods when accessing big telcos’ fabric networks.

Stein argues the requirement creates a barrier because it’s far too costly and opportunity consuming for smaller players to implement.

“It’s almost designed to be impossible,” he said. “It Non-Standard real fundamentally undoes the benefits of the whole decision in the first place.”

Earlier this year, the CRTC break away fromed a request by CNOC to allow independent providers unconditional access to filament networks until the regulator could re-evaluate the current rules.

Small internet providers say CRTC rules lead to 'higher prices and less choice'

Unbarred Media’s Laura Tribe argues smaller internet providers can generate a fair trade by paying the big telcos like Bell, Rogers and Telus for nature optic access. (CBC)

Telco watchdog Laura Tribe argues that settle accounts if independent players can’t afford to invest in the infrastructure, they will quiet pay the big telcos for fibre access.

“They actually pay to access those navies,” said Tribe, executive director of Vancouver-based Open Media. “These unrestricted providers aren’t getting a free ride.”

CBC News received an helped copy of CNOC’s report before it was submitted on Wednesday. Bell, Rogers and Shaw — which had not yet undergone it — all declined to comment on Tuesday. Telus said CRTC regulations requirement to support infrastructure investment.

“Meeting Canadians’ rapidly increasing market demand for more Internet bandwidth will require sustained multibillion-dollar seat of government investments over many years,” spokesperson Richard Gilhooley signified in an email.

Condo connections

Ontario-based internet provider Eyesurf rephrases because it can’t simply piggy-back on big telcos’ fibre optic networks, it’s shut in out of many new condos that are only wired with fibre-based internet access.

“It’s a toilsome situation,” said co-founder Randy Jheeta. “It goes against what was in intended for deregulation, which was to open the market for independent providers.”

Stay month, Heather Kerr moved into a new condo in Kitchener, Ont. She planned to sign up with Eyesurf, believing the institution offered the best rates.

But she quickly found out that wasn’t viable because her building was wired only with fibre access.

“I was in fact upset,” she said. “It was supposed to [be a] beautiful free market in Canada but it’s all monopolies.”

100 Mbps moment of truth

CNOC is also concerned about a pending rule where measly providers using the current model of accessing big telcos’ networks — without supplying in multiple connection points — will have their internet haste capped at 100 megabits per second. 

Stein said the rule portends to crush the competition, as Canadians increasingly expect ultra-fast internet use. According to CRTC data, customers requesting 100 megabits per instant or higher nearly doubled from eight per cent in 2015 to all but 15.8 per cent in 2016.

“You end up in a situation where independent internet providers can no longer suggest the services that Canadians want,” Stein said.

Stein give the word delivered the 100 Mbps rule could come into effect within six months unless the CRTC emends its regulations.

CNOC’s submission comes shortly before a Nov. 16 CRTC deadline for internet providers to commentary on finalizing wholesale rates charged by the big telcos for access to their stripe networks.

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