Bell Accuses CRTC of Favouritism

by Jordan Richardson on June 1, 2010

BCE Inc. boss George Cope tore a strip off of the CRTC on Monday, announcing that Canada’s telecommunications regulator had been continually favouring his company’s rivals. Cope claimed that the CRTC was aligning against “traditional phone companies” and stated that new rules imposed on the industry would “limit” future investment.

As the CRTC looks into mandating access to infrastructure for competitors, Bell is concerned that their competitive advantage may fall by the wayside. The government presently requires Bell, Telus and Rogers to lease their networks to smaller companies that lack access to the gargantuan amounts of capital required to build such infrastructure themselves.

Cope and Co. are pleading with the CRTC to realize that there is “choice” now in Canada’s telecommunications industry and is imploring the regulator to no longer impress such “antiquated” standards on to their industry.

Cope then went on to claim that the regulator was doing the equivalent of forcing Tim Horton’s to share its famous coffee with small-time coffee shops on the corner. The analogy was a trendy one, but was swiftly undermined by Konrad von Finckenstein’s disagreement. He reiterated the basic fact that Tim Horton’s was not a part of any “network,” adding that the buying and selling of network space contains more intricacy than that of selling a particular brew to a competitor.

Bell was quick to hold their toys over the entirety of Canada, claiming that sharing such as that imposed upon them by the CRTC would leave their billion dollar companies with no choice but to no longer invest in infrastructure.

The rural areas of Canada were held up as examples, with Bell’s Mirko Bibic saying that his company wouldn’t build services in areas that lacked them if they were forced to sell services to smaller competitors.

If they don’t have to sell services to their smaller competitors anymore, Bell promises to play nice and take good care of the rural customers. They also promise to be good investors. These remarks are interesting in the context of Cope’s comments a few short weeks ago about rural investment.

The reality here is that Canada’s big telecommunications companies are afraid of losing their market supremacy in the face of new competition, so they’re playing hardball with the CRTC.

Bell, Telus and Rogers own an obscene majority of the market share in Canada’s telecom industry and they will continue to be leaders in the industry for years to come. Suggesting the cartel is somehow nonexistent is preposterous, but that is the goal of the current telecommunications oligarchy in Canada. The bill of goods these companies continue to endeavour to put over on the Canadian consumer is offensive.

The presumption, as always, is that the markets will magically regulate themselves and that “real” competition will materialize from a permissive approach from any and all depraved regulatory bodies. The reality, as we’ve seen countless times throughout history, is immensely different.

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August 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

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