CRTC Ruling Signals Significant Step Toward Affordable, Accessible Internet in

By forcing large providers to open up their high-speed lines to smaller carriers, the CRTC hopes it will increase competition, resulting in lower prices and improved service. Large incumbent companies will now have to make their fibre facilities available to their competitors.

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“Following an extensive review, the CRTC found that the large incumbent companies continue to possess market power in the provision of wholesale high-speed access services and is requiring that they make these services available to competitors”, the commission said in a media release on Thursday.

Both phone and cable companies will be affected by a separate part of the ruling that they will have to provide wholesale landline services on a “disaggregated” basis, meaning the access they sell must be packaged in smaller sizes.

But smaller ISPs dismissed the warning, accusing the big players of shutting them out of fibre networks in order to protect their market share.

CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in an interview Wednesday that the incumbents need to invest to remain competitive with each other, particularly in the case of the telephone companies.

The ruling also said wholesale landline services must be “disaggregated”, separating access from interconnection.

The CRTC had previously ruled that telecom and cable companies must lease their fixed-line networks to a slew of smaller rivals at prescribed rates.

Officials say those investments could actually reduce costs for independent ISPs, which now access the larger networks through trunk locations. There are dozens of these regional interfaces in Ontario and Quebec.

There are now more than 500 alternative ISPs in Canada – including players like TekSavvy, Distributel and Primus – but the incumbents still dominate the market, with independent providers accounting for just 8 per cent of revenue from residential customers in 2013, according to the CRTC’s most recent published numbers.

Major Internet providers warned the commission during the hearing that mandating access to fiber services would create a disincentive to them investing in such infrastructure in the first place.

“Fibre infrastructure is essential because it accommodates the anticipated bandwidth needs of Canadian telecom consumers of the future”, said company CEO Matt Stein.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today launched a public consultation until 16 October to better understand the technical solutions that are now offered to help Canadians manage unsolicited telecommunications and illegitimate telemarketing calls.

Distributel has already branched out beyond providing Internet service, to TV, home phone and long distance services in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

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The markup for access to fibre optic networks is expected to be determined by late next year.

Internet LAN cables are