Bell, Rogers, Shaw and More Could Appeal CRTC Wholesale Rates Ruling by Sept. 14

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) lowered broadband internet wholesale rates last month, in a move said to increase competition and lower prices for consumers.

The rate change was retroactive dating back to 2016, which meant major telecom players would have to pay back smaller providers the difference in pricing.

Shortly after the ruling, Bell came out to say it would roll back its internet expansion plans for its wireless broadband product to rural areas by 20%, affecting about 200,000 households. Rogers said the CRTC decision would affect its Q3 by $140 million, while Videotron, Shaw, Cogeco, Eastlink and SaskTel all voiced their disappointment in the Commission’s decision.

According to The Globe and Mail, analysts expect major carriers to appeal the CRTC decision, with September 14th acting as the final date carriers can fight the decision with the Federal Court of Appeal (30 days from the August ruling).

Telecom providers have 90 days to appeal the CRTC decision to the federal cabinet, or to ask the Commission to review the ruling.

The consensus is the big telecom players will appeal the decision. National Bank and TD Bank analysts wrote in recent reports they expect an “aggressive appeal” and “harsh reactions” from carriers.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, previously said he was “deeply disappointed” by Bell Canada’s statement, citing the company was “holding rural Canadians hostage.”

The Canadian Network Operators Consortium, a lobby group for smaller independent internet service providers, expects an appeal by providers, which would drag the process out “as long as possible,” said chair, Matt Stein.

Ahead of this fall’s federal election in October, major political parties are rallying around lower telecom bills and pricing, in an effort to win over voters with their consumer affordability platforms.