The federal government is proposing new rules that it says will help make the internet more affordable and lower phone bills.
Ottawa will ask the Canadian Radio, Television and Communications Commission (CRTC) to allow smaller Internet service providers to access the networks of major carriers and says it “must take action to provide improved wholesale pricing in a timely manner”.
But it won’t overturn a controversial CRTC ruling issued last year that reversed the same regulatory agency’s 2019 decision to cut fees large carriers would be able to charge smaller ISPs for access to their broadband networks.
CRTC agrees to Rogers’ takeover of Shaw Radio, but on costly terms
The government is also directing the CRTC to improve the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) model and says it is ready to move to a full MVNO model to support competition if necessary.
MVNOs are wireless providers that buy cell phone network service from major carriers at a wholesale price and then sell access to customers at a reasonable price.
Ottawa is also asking the Radiocommunication Center (CRTC) to address what it calls unacceptable sales practices and put in place new measures to improve clarity around service pricing and the ability for customers to cancel or change services.
It also wants to see service providers implement mandatory broadband testing so Canadians understand what they’re paying for.
Physical distancing recommended amid monkeypox outbreak in Canada, says Ngo
Edmonton Oilers advance to West Final with OT win over Flames
Feds unveil plan to make high-speed internet cheaper for low-income Canadians
Smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) said they are cautiously optimistic about the new communications policy guidance.
But Brad Fisher, chief revenue officer of an independent telecommunications company, says he is “disappointed” with Ottawa’s decision not to overturn last year’s ruling.
“It’s a missed opportunity to get money back into Canadians’ pockets,” he said.
After evaluating petitions from smaller ISPs on the matter, Ottawa says it has concluded that the 2019 rates included a series of errors and that it would be “irresponsible” to implement them. The government says the rates implemented in 2016 will remain the same.
Small ISPs Prepare to Raise Prices, Cut Services Amid CRTC’s Decision
Fisher adds that the decision will make the market difficult for small ISPs to operate in, even though the government has provided a “clear set” of “pro-competitive long-term” guidance.
Meanwhile, communications researcher Ben Klass says the measures aren’t doing enough to support competition.
“This trend appears to be essentially an effort on the part of the government to divert attention from its refusal to address the CRTC’s failure to support competition by regulating a fair rate for ISPs,” he said.
Ottawa’s communications policy proposal dies down as concerns grow about Rogers Communications, Inc.’s acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc.
© 2022 Canadian Press