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CRTC Says Competition, Consumer Choice Not for ‘Public Good Consideration’ in Bell Fibre Wire Ruling

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a ruling today in regards to access to in-building wire (IBW) in multi-dwelling units (MDUs), that favoured Bell Canada.

In a nutshell, the CRTC ruling says “access to fibre IBW is not an essential service and will not be mandated.” The decision means companies using Bell Canada’s fibre IBW will need to negotiate an agreement with the company for access.

The CRTC says companies that were allowed to use these Bell Canada fibre lines must now “cease and desist such use within 180 days of the date of this decision, unless they reach a commercially negotiated agreement” with the company. Similarly, these third party companies must provide a “minimum of 90 days’ notice to affected customers of any changes to their service.”

Without access to Bell Canada fibre lines, third-party companies would have to install their own lines inside apartment buildings, an expensive undertaking when drywall and other finishings have already taken place for established towers.

Back in June 2019, Waterloo-based Cloudwifi won a CRTC ruling that stopped Bell Canada from interfering with the use of Bell Canada’s inside wire, within apartment buildings. Bell Canada pushed back and today’s ruling has now favoured the latter.

Interestingly enough, the CRTC writes in today’s ruling, “the public good policy consideration does not apply to access to fibre IBW because such access does not have a strong connection to social or consumer welfare, public safety, or public convenience.”

Public good policy consideration typically applies to services such as 911, which everyone is mandated to provide. But access to fibre lines does not fall into this category.

“In addition, the Commission does not consider that competition and consumer choice qualify as public good considerations,” writes the CRTC.

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Last month, a picture shared by TekSavvy showed Bell’s CEO Mirko Bibic having a beer with CRTC Chair Ian Scott, from back in 2019, as part of a registered lobbyist meeting, which took place, “just one week after the CRTC opened an active file to hear Bell’s application to reverse the 2019 Final Rates Order, which the regulator recently arbitrarily approved,” according to the independent internet service provider.

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