Smaller ISPs Battle Rogers, TELUS, Bell for Fibre-Optic Cable Access


If fibre is the future, then the future is in the hands of some players Canadians know well: Rogers, Telus, and Bell. There is a problem, though: smaller Internet service providers want fibre as well, so they turned to the CRTC and started a fight over FTTH, or FTTP, Fibre-to-the-premises (via CBC News).

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Actually, smaller ISPs — Smart Communications, TekSavvy, VMedia — could compete with the Big Three with the help of CRTC rules that granted access to incumbents’ wiring. Current broadband plans are limited to roughly 60 Mbps. With fibre, on the other hand, we can talk about speeds of over 1,000 Mbps. Most importantly, speed isn’t affected by electrical interference, distance to the node, number of connections, or network traffic.

That’s the future. And everybody wants it.

Demand for higher Internet speeds is driven by video usage. “The actual usage of capacity is increasing by 30 to 40 percent per year because of the increased demand for video content and high-quality video,” says George Burger of VMedia, a Toronto-based Internet protocol TV provider.

Incumbents, however, don’t want to grant access to smaller players, because — as Bell puts it — wiring represents about a third of the capital costs, and opening it up to wholesale access would harm the investment.

Small ISPs say that if they don’t have access to FTTH, they can’t compete. The regulator will issue a decision on this matter in the next couple of months.


  • MrXax

    I’m confused. If the CRTC already has rules in place to grant access to the small ISPs, what’s the issue?

  • Andy

    I think under the current rules, they only have access to wiring, which does not include the cabling direct to the home. That’s called the “last mile” I believe.

    If Bell pays for it, they don’t want the customer to go to Teksavvy or Rogers.

    As the article puts it, they should give them the exclusive rights until they recoup their installation costs, or a time-cap, say 18 months.

  • Noel

    You’re forgetting that Bell was already given a monopoly for which they paid nothing for and they had for decades. That allowed them to build their metwork for free. They don’t need to be paid back for anything.

  • ????Dennis

    Just left Rogers after a decade and after using Fibe; no wonder everyone wants a piece. Super stable and consistent. Can’t ask for anything more. I actually give credit to Bell for planning ahead and investing in Fibe. Can’t say the same for Rogers. They would never update if it wasn’t for the competition.

  • xxxJDxxx

    This is originally why I switched from Shaw to Telus. The telus rep i spoke to assured me that my residence qualified for FTTH. Of course, once the installer arrived I found out that I was lied to and that I would be getting the standard VDSL service. Switch back to Shaw after a few months but am eager to switch again if I ever get the opportunity to have FTTH. Is this something that is being expanded out west? Or is it mostly in the East?

  • Patrick Ducharme

    It was true for Copper Network, but I think Bell paid themselves the Fiber network. I think the exclusive rights is a good solution until the installation cost is recoup. The only issue is how they will manage that? each installation is at a different date… also, what if a client subscribe to FTTH for only 1 month, then wait the “exclusivity time” and then switch to a IISP ? Complex…

    Maybe just charging a “rental” fee to IISP for each subscriber on FTTH is best?

  • CanucksGoals

    Not to defend Bell but nothing is free in this world. Money and network don’t grow themselves like trees and plants. I assume technicians, hardware, maintenance, and etc cost money.

    I wonder why not one small provider willing to invest on building its own network. They spend their money to the lawyers suing and try to piggyback the BIg 3.

  • CanucksGoals

    My friend in Toronto just switched to Rogers recently. He told me he is on Cable Fibe right now which has around 200 Mbps when he check on speedtest consistently. That’s crazy fast.

    I am in the West Coast and stuck with Shaw at the moment. I have like 20 Mbps if I am lucky.

  • Noel

    Because, do you have any idea the massive amounts of capital it requires to do so? The smaller players cannot afford it because they were never given the free monopolies in cable and landline and free access to airwaves (in the wireless arena) that Telus, Bell and Rogers were given that allowed them to create huge amounts of free cash flow and profits.

    People have such short memories and forget the largesse of our government in handing out a free lunch more than once to these companies. Smaller players never received this and have to compete on an entirely different playing field.

  • Noel

    You totally miss the point. Getting these handouts gave them the financial strength to build the fiber network. You cannot separate the two. Smaller players have not got one thing from the government.

  • Patrick Ducharme

    Yes, true. But I was just telling what Bell argument was (i’m not OK with that).

  • dudemaster

    I joined Rogers from Teksavvy. I get 250+ Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload:

  • Bob

    Can see the issue herein terms of competition, but it’d be unfair to the companies that own the fiber.Why should the smaller ISPs be allowed to use someone else’s network? Why should bigger ISPs that have the infilstructure have to share it? It’s like allowing your neighbours to park their car on your driveway. Unless there are costs that the smaller ISPs have to pay to “rent” lines, it should be a decision of the person who owns the fiber if they want to share.

    On that note. I regularly get 320 mbs download, 20 Mbps upload. Rogers 250u

  • Jaguar4u2c

    Bell had the monopoly on the phone network that your (Canadian) parents and grandparents paid for their entire lives. They charged an arm and a leg for long distance and other misc charges on every monthly bill for several decades before competition began in Canada. That’s how they got rich an could afford to start all the branches of Bell companies like Sympatico etc.

    That’s where the money came from, after paying mega salaries to the owners and management of Bell companies. Don’t worry about asking for some of our hard earned money (in value/network) back. I say, Bell owes Canadians after milking us for way too long.

    If CRTC did not allow competition we would still be paying Bell Canada over $1. per minute long distance across Canada, and more for international calls. Wish I had a copy of an old bill showing all the additional monthly charges back in the day, for using and building the network. Plus charges for future investments. Now we know who paid for what.

  • danielle cb

    I totally agree with you. They already made billions of dollars out of the pocket of common canadians. We are basically part owners of their massive network 🙂