In a letter to Canada’s Competition Bureau Commissioner, I have requested an investigation into the anti-competitive practices of wholesale internet service providers in rural Canada.
Despite successive governments providing hundreds of millions of dollars for rural broadband, the pandemic highlights the way large telecom providers have stymied development to extract large profits from citizens forced to use expensive wireless.
There are several anti-competitive practices the wholesale internet providers use to keep rural broadband prices higher; including different corporate divisions sharing information about competitors plans, charging unreasonable rates for access to poles, and building just enough broadband in a region to have it declared served, making the area ineligible for federal broadband funding.
The CRTC has seemingly turned a blind eye to these practices for years despite its obligation to regulate the market. For all of the examples mentioned above, I am requesting the Competition Bureau launch a public interest investigation into Canada’s rural broadband market.
The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) is responsible for regulating the broadband market. Following a CRTC review, which ordered lower wholesale rates for independent internet service providers, the large wholesalers took the CRTC to court to protect their right to charge higher prices for internet access in rural Canada. In my letter to the Competition Bureau, I quoted from a submission by Canadian Communication Systems Alliance to the CRTC:
“A common feature among these issues raised by the smaller, competitive telecommunications services providers represented by CCSA is they are artificial time and cost barriers to broadband build-out by those competitors in the small-town and rural markets they serve. Those barriers appear to be driven largely by the incumbents’ desire to suppress competition in those smaller markets.”Canadian Communication Systems Alliance
I am calling on residents who support an investigation into anti-competitive practices with respect to rural broadband to write the Commissioner of Competition.