VMedia expresses ‘dismay’ at Cabinet’s stance on CRTC’s wholesale rates

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VMedia has released a statement expressing its “shock and dismay” at the Federal Cabinet’s decision to side with larger telecom companies in regards to the CRTC’s wholesale rates.

The statement says that the Federal Cabinet has condemned Canadians to higher internet prices and is bailing out the big telcos.

On August 15th, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains released a statement saying the Governor in Council believes that the CRTC’s lowered rates from August 2019 do not balance the policy objectives of the wholesale services framework and that the rates may undermine investment, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Wholesale rates are paid by competitors, like TekSavvy and Distributel, which then get access to high-speed networks from incumbents like Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Rates are set so that incumbents can charge for this access after the CRTC reviews information regarding how much it costs to operate networks.

“Cabinet is seeking to substitute its own findings, based on extensive and secret lobbying campaigns by the incumbents, for that of the CRTC- which, in contrast, concluded that prices are not just and reasonable and adjusted them accordingly,” VMedia stated in a press release.

It notes that higher internet prices would impose burdens on Canadian during any time, but that it’s especially “heartless” for it to happen during a pandemic when home internet services are crucial and unemployment is high.

“We invite the Prime Minister to step up to the podium at his next briefing and explain to Canadians in the throes of this pandemic, when their economic circumstances are most vulnerable, and when internet service is so vital to their lives and livelihoods, that they are not, finally, entitled to just and reasonable internet prices because the incumbents are not making enough money,” said George Burger, the director of VMedia, in the press release.

Further, VMedia notes that since the CRTC’s decision is currently under appeal before the Federal Court of Appeal and the CRTC itself, the Cabinet’s order is an unprecedented intervention in an ongoing proceeding that threatens to influence the judicial appeal.

VMedia CEO Alexei Tchernobrivets outlines that the CRTC should be applauded for its decision, not second-guessed. He states that it appears the Cabinet deliberately intended to influence the two ongoing appeals.

Following the Cabinet’s statement, TekSavvy, Distributel and Start.ca have all implemented price increases amid the ongoing uncertainty with the rates. The service providers state that they have been forced to raise prices following the government’s stance siding with the incumbents.

Source: VMedia

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