The CRTC takes on Canada’s telecom giants

Not all heroes wear capes: Canada’s telecom regulator is trying to make your phone bill a little less daunting. 

What happened: The CRTC is forcing Canada’s biggest telecom companies to give smaller, independent competitors in Ontario and Québec access to their fibre networks — it’s the first move in the regulator's push to increase competition in the highly concentrated sector.

  • In response to the ruling, BCE said it would cut $1 billion in capital spending and slow down the expansion of its fibre network — which has cost it $18 billion since 2020. 

Why it’s happening: The big three telecom companies (Bell, Rogers, and Telus) have been running the table by buying up companies and stifling competition, a reality that the CRTC is now combatting within the provinces that make up more than 60% of Canada’s population.

  • The CRTC review found independent internet providers in Ontario and Québec currently serve about 47% fewer customers than they did just two years ago.

Why it matters: Canada has some of the most expensive phone and internet plans in the world. More competition could push big players to offer better prices, though experts say they’ll continue to own the market until interim rates are finalized and expanded nationwide. 

What’s next: The CRTC says its review of competition in the internet sector is ongoing, and more changes aimed at bringing down the cost of internet could soon be on the way.—LA