Bell ‘Blackmailing’ Canadians in CRTC Internet Decision, Says MP

Bell recently announced a $1 billion reduction in its investment for high-speed internet networks over the next two years in Ontario and Quebec, a move following the CRTC’s mandate to allow internet service providers wholesale access to its network.

This decision comes after a $100 million decrease in its capital expenditure budget last year, also involving Telus, in anticipation of the regulatory ruling.

Windsor West Member of Parliament, Brian Masse, slammed Bell’s decision labeling it as “blackmail,” reports Windsor News Today. Masse criticized Bell for cutting internet infrastructure investments as a punitive response to the CRTC’s move to introduce competition in the provinces.

“Bell is cutting investment in internet infrastructure as a punishment to Canadians for the CRTC finally allowing for some competition in two provinces,” Masse stated, describing the announcement as “outrageous.”

Masse accused Bell of long-term consumer price gouging and called on the federal government to intervene. He advocated for the restoration of price regulation and mandated telecom infrastructure investments to foster a competitive marketplace. “Our country needs to restore price regulation, mandated telecom infrastructure investments, and a truly competitive marketplace,” Masse urged, citing examples of other countries with more affordable prices and greater consumer choice.

The small Internet service provider market has seen a 40% growth since 2020. The CRTC hopes its decision will help stabilize the waning telecom competition. One of the last few independent ISPs, Teksavvy, welcomed the CRTC’s decision but raised concerns about the wholesale rates set by the CRTC, which they claim are higher than the retail prices charged by Bell and Telus to their own customers.

Teksavvy also criticized the CRTC’s restriction of access to Ontario and Quebec, arguing that other regions are equally deserving. Bell’s fibre network currently reaches over 7 million homes and businesses, with plans to expand to 9 million by the end of 2025. However, the CRTC ruling did not mandate Bell and Telus to open access in Western Canada, a point Bell highlighted. “If the intent of the decision is to benefit consumers, then it is arbitrary and capricious to leave Western Canadian consumers behind,” the company stated.

Bell CEO Mirko Bibic defended the company’s actions last week, stating that Bell had increased its capital expenditures to historic levels during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide reliable connectivity to Canadians.

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