Big Telcos Must Allow Wholesale Access to Fibre Networks: CRTC

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will officially announce the implementation of its decision to mandate wholesale access to its fibre network for smaller internet service providers. The first areas to benefit from the regulator’s decision will be Ontario and Québec, reports the Financial Post.

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The decision was issued last summer, but the implementation comes only now, because Bell challenged it, claiming such access would lower its return on investment, and argued that smaller players should invest in their own fibre networks.

This May, the Liberal cabinet rejected Bell’s petition, and since then smaller players have been awaiting the guidelines on how wholesale access to fibre networks will work.

The new rules require a switch from aggregated wholesale access to an entire network to disaggregated wholesale access. Smaller competitors will still buy wholesale access to connections from a telco’s central office or cableco’s head-end to the end customer’s premises, but they’ll have to separately lease or build their own transmission facilities within these locations.

The telecom regulator says its decision to grant access to the incumbents’ fibre network will improve facilities-based competition and also give smaller players more control over their costs, but as the Financial Post points out, it will be difficult to implement, due to variations in network architecture between cable companies and telecom companies.

The CRTC has asked incumbents to recalculate their rates after concerns about higher rates apparent in June. The regulator has yet to approve these rates, which leaves smaller players in limbo, at least for now.