TekSavvy pushes CRTC for high-speed ac­tion on high-speed net choice

The Chatham Daily News - - FRONT PAGE -

A Chatham-based in­ter­net ser­vice provider has called on the Cana­dian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion to en­sure mean­ing­ful con­sumer choice for high-speed in­ter­net ser­vices.

TekSavvy So­lu­tions Inc. is­sued a re­lease re­gard­ing its top brass ad­dress­ing the CRTC in Toronto on Wed­nes­day.

“The large car­ri­ers are gam­ing the sys­tem to block con­sumer choice,” said Janet Lo, vice-pres­i­dent of pri­vacy and con­sumer le­gal af­fairs.

“The large car­ri­ers use the same play­book on ev­ery cus­tomer, whether it’s their whole­sale cus­tomer, like TekSavvy, or their own re­tail cus­tomers. The large car­ri­ers over­billed whole­sale cus­tomers like TekSavvy for years. Now, con­sumers are with­out choice while the large car­ri­ers ben­e­fit off their new fi­bre broad­band mo­nop­oly.”

In 2015, the CRTC set out rules al­low­ing smaller in­ter­net ser­vice providers to buy whole­sale ac­cess to the large car­ri­ers’ fi­bre net­works, so Cana­di­ans could choose their broad­band provider and ben­e­fit from greater com­pe­ti­tion.

More than three years later, com­peti­tors like TekSavvy re­main shut out from higher speeds due to un­rea­son­able rates pro­posed by the in­cum­bents, the re­lease said.

“If our cus­tomers want higher speeds, they’re forced to leave TekSavvy and switch to Bell or Rogers. Some­thing is very wrong with this pic­ture. We’re ask­ing the CRTC to fix it — pronto,” said Marc Gau­drault, TekSavvy’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

In Oc­to­ber 2016, the CRTC re­buked the large car­ri­ers for break­ing its rate-set­ting rules.

Ac­cord­ing to a reg­u­la­tory ap­pli­ca­tion filed Wed­nes­day by TekSavvy’s in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, the Cana­dian Net­work Op­er­a­tors Con­sor­tium Inc., the large car­ri­ers over­billed smaller com­peti­tors more than $300 mil­lion that has not yet been re­turned.

The CRTC found that whole­sale rates are grossly in­flated by the large car­ri­ers when they ig­nore proper cost­ing prin­ci­ples. To­day, they “brazenly” con­tinue to man­u­fac­ture new ways to in­flate costs, even when given clear di­rec­tion from the CRTC oth­er­wise, the re­lease said.

“The gam­ing needs to be stopped. Com­peti­tors’ in­vest­ments and jobs are al­ready in jeop­ardy,” said Andy Kaplan-Myrth, TekSavvy’s vi­cepres­i­dent of reg­u­la­tory and car­rier af­fairs.

“We need im­me­di­ate ac­tion by the CRTC to re­store con­sumer choice. To do that, they need to fix proper rates, pro­vide an in­terim path to higher speeds for con­sumers who choose com­peti­tors, and re­turn over­billed money to small com­peti­tors.”

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