Rogers Urges CRTC to End Wholesale Internet Mandates

On Thursday, the fourth day of the CRTC’s public hearing on internet competition, Rogers argued for the phasing out of the current wholesale network access model, which allows smaller players to resell access.

“The decisions you make in this proceeding will impact both the scale and pace of these capital expenditures and could jeopardize the business case for the most challenging investments, including those in rural parts of the country,” said Ron McKenzie, Rogers’ Chief Technology and Information Officer.

McKenzie argued for a compensation model that ensures cost recovery and risk sharing for companies like Rogers. The ongoing CRTC hearing is reviewing the potential expansion of a decision that temporarily allowed wholesale access to Bell and Telus’ fibre internet networks in Ontario and Quebec, to increase competition.

“Wholesale mandates that are overbroad or that favour one type of network technology or competitor over others undermine the primary source of competition in the market,” said Dean Shaikh, Rogers’ senior vice-president of regulatory affairs, according to The Canadian Press.

Rogers wants wholesale network mandates to be phased out, but pointed out that big players could still set agreements with smaller companies for network access.

“If the commission disagrees, an equitable, minimally intrusive wholesale regime is the best way to advance the policy objectives,” said Shaikh.

Rogers told the CRTC that cable providers should be relieved from the mandate to offer wholesale access to their entirely fibre-based networks, specifically fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP). The company said that FTTP makes up a minor part of its network, noting it enhances its hybrid fibre-coaxial network instead.

“The dual burden of providing access to both network types would undermine our investment and pose provisioning challenges,” Shaikh explained.

Quebecor also presented on Thursday at the CRTC hearing, with CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau arguing the regulatory imbalance that unfairly benefits telephone companies over cable operators.

Péladeau argued for equal regulatory treatment for Bell and Telus, mirroring the conditions applied to cable distributors nationwide. He emphasized the need for its subsidiary Videotron, with a limited presence outside Quebec, to utilize competitors’ networks to broaden its internet service offerings in additional provinces.

The Quebecor CEO supported the CRTC’s recent decision to allow temporary wholesale access to Bell and Telus’ fibre networks. However, Péladeau criticized Bell for threatening to reduce its fibre network investment, accusing the company of frustrating Canadian consumers.

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