Bell Pushes CRTC for Fibre Access Limits; Telus on Hold

Speaking at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) public consultation today, Bell and Telus took their chance to explain their stances on sharing its network to smaller competitors.

Bell wants specific conditions on the access of smaller internet providers to competitors’ fibre networks. This appeal was made during the CRTC’s ongoing consultation on fostering internet competition, highlighting concerns over the potential impact on network investments. Bell has already slashed its investments and also 4,800 jobs, laying the blame on the CRTC and federal government.

Robert Malcolmson, Bell’s Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, criticized the CRTC’s previous interim decision that temporarily mandated his company and Telus to give competitors access to their fibre-to-the-home networks in Ontario and Quebec.

“The commission’s calculation that granting temporary wholesale internet access wouldn’t lead to spending cuts was dead wrong,” said Malcolmson, according to The Canadian Press.

Following the CRTC’s decision, Bell announced a reduction in its network expenditure by $1.1 billion through 2025, including a significant cut of $500 million in 2024 alone.

Bell proposed some conditions it wants when it comes to being forced to share its fibre-to-the-home networks. These include capping the resale internet speeds to 1.5 gigabytes per second and delaying competitors’ access to a new network by five years post-construction. This ensures companies that build networks get an advantage and investment recovery period. It already previously announced it is capping its own fibre speeds to 3 Gbps, blaming the CRTC for the change.

While Bell shared exactly how it felt to the CRTC, Telus stated that the interim decision has not yet influenced its investment plans. It reiterated that remote expansion is expensive, pointing out that its fibre rollout in Quebec was complete, but B.C. and Alberta still have a long ways to go.

“We would like to continue to do that and finish those communities, but it does require ensuring that we have a framework, and if necessary rates, that would allow us to recover those costs, get a payback on those investments,” said Matthew Murray, Telus Senior Vice-President and Corporate Controller.

On Thursday, Cogeco, Quebecor (on behalf of Videotron) and Rogers will be appearing at the public consultation, while on Friday, we’ll get to hear from TekSavvy.

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