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Canada to make telcos share network with competitors in Ontario, Quebec

OTTAWA – Canada’s telecoms regulator said on Monday it will temporarily require large telephone companies to let competitors use their infrastructure to sell internet services in Ontario and Quebec provinces to increase competition and lower prices.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it found that competition among high-speed internet service providers had decreased in recent years, and the decline was most significant in Ontario and Quebec – the two most populous provinces.

Following CRTC’s decision, Canadian media and telecom firm Bell said it will reduce fresh costs and slash its fibre network expansion plans.

Bell intends to cut capital expenditures by over $1 billion in the next two years, along with a minimum of $500 million to $600 million in 2024, the company said in a statement, adding that the decision by the regulator will put access to Canada’s high-speed fibre internet at risk.

Large telephone companies will be required to provide competitors with access to their fiber-to-the-home networks within six months, the CRTC said in a statement.

The CRTC said it was also setting the interim rates that competitors will pay when selling services over the networks of large telephone companies.

“Today’s initial decision will bring new options to more than five million households,” CRTC Chief Executive Officer Vicky Eatrides said in the statement.

The CRTC is reviewing competition and affordability for internet services in Canada, and said the move announced on Monday was designed to stabilize the market quickly. The regulator will hold public hearings starting in February.

“As the CRTC’s review advances, Canadians can expect continued action to increase choice and affordability, while supporting investment in high-quality networks,” Ms. Eatrides said.

Last month, Canada’s antitrust regulator said a study of data from 2000 to 2020 found that competitive intensity had fallen over the decades, indicating businesses feel it is harder to gain advantage over competitors. – Reuters

Jino Nicolas

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