The federal government is proposing new rules that it says will help make the Internet more accessible and reduce telephone bills.
Ottawa will demand that the Canadian Broadcasting Commission (CRTC) allow smaller ISPs access to the networks of large telecommunications companies, and says it “must take steps to make timely and better wholesale tariffs available.”
However, this will not change last year’s controversial CRTC decision, which reversed the regulatory agency’s 2019 decision to reduce the fees that large telecommunications companies could charge smaller ISPs for access to their broadband networks.
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The government is also ordering the CRTC to improve its hybrid mobile virtual operator (MVNO) model and says it is ready to move to a full MVNO model to boost competition if needed.
MVNOs are wireless service providers that buy mobile phone network service from large operators at a wholesale price and then sell access to customers at a more affordable price.
Ottawa also calls on the CRTC to address what it calls unacceptable sales practices and to propose new measures to improve clarity about service prices and the ability of customers to cancel or change services.
He also wants service providers to introduce mandatory broadband testing so that Canadians understand what they are paying for.
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Smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have said they are cautiously optimistic about the new telecoms policy directives.
But Brad Fisher, director of revenue at the independent telecommunications company Distributel, says he is “disappointed” by Ottawa’s decision not to overturn last year’s verdict.
“It’s a missed opportunity to put money back in the pockets of Canadians,” he said.
After considering petitions from smaller ISPs on the matter, Ottawa says it has concluded that the 2019 rates contained a number of errors and that it would be “irresponsible” to implement them. The government claims that the rates introduced in 2016 will remain in force.
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Fisher adds that the decision will make the market more difficult for smaller ISPs, although the government has provided a “clear set” of directives that are “longer-term for competition.”
Meanwhile, telecommunications researcher Ben Klass says the measures do not sufficiently support competition.
“This direction seems to be primarily an effort by the government to divert attention from its refusal to address the CRTC’s inability to promote competition through fair tariff regulation for ISPs,” he said.
Ottawa’s telecommunications policy proposal addresses growing concerns about the acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc. Rogers Communications Inc. for $ 26 billion.
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