CRTC to Force Big Telcos to Grant Faster Pole Access–to Increase Competition

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced on Wednesday it is setting faster timelines for big telecoms to grant competitors access to poles.

The expedited timelines, according to the CRTC, will encourage “more broadband competition” as smaller companies will be able to roll out their networks faster and more efficiently.

The CRTC says big companies including the likes of Bell, TELUS, SaskTel, and Télébec, will have to give details to competitors and the Commission when it comes to pole access requests, for the sake of transparency and accountability.

The move appears to be the first initiative of new CRTC Chairperson and CEO, Vicky Eatrides, who has said recently she plans to increase competition among telcos.

“Poles are essential for the deployment of telecommunications networks. The measures introduced today will have tangible impacts for Canadians by helping competitors speed up their deployment of broadband networks, leading to more competition,” said Eatrides in a statement.

The CRTC says it is asking provincial and territorial governments to discuss with telcos and others to fast-track network deployment.

Poles refer to telephone poles, hydro poles and utility poles, that support telephone and electricity equipment. Normally, smaller providers need to request access from bigger telecoms that control the poles. Sometimes, big telcos take their sweet time to grant access, delaying network advancements by smaller companies.

Last June, Bell was fined $7.5 million by the CRTC for violating the Telecommunications Act when it denied Videotron access to telephone poles.

Earlier this week, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government ordered the CRTC to focus on wireless and internet affordability, including consumer rights. It remains to be seen if the federal government’s plans will actually cause cellphone and internet bills to go down, or if they will just keep spewing out platitudes about the great changes they are making to Canadians.