Briefing

Major telecoms win temporary reprieve in fight over internet pricing

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The Federal Court of Appeal stayed an August 15 decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that required large telecoms to charge lower wholesale rates to smaller internet providers and pay them back for the higher prices they’ve charged since 2016. Two lawsuits are challenging the decision, one filed by Bell and the other by Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco, Quebecor and Bragg Communications. In his rulings in both lawsuits, Justice Yves de Montigny said the CRTC order “could result in a permanent market distortion which could be extremely difficult to remedy afterwards.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is an incremental victory for the large telecoms. Montigny said he granted the stay with the “implicit understanding” the large firms would make the retroactive payments if they lose. Matt Stein—CEO of Distributel, which had previously said it would cut costs for new customers and speed up costs for existing ones due to the CRTC decision—told The Logic the ruling won’t affect his company’s plans. Beyond these lawsuits, the telecoms have two other avenues by which they can challenge the ruling: they can appeal to the CRTC by November 13, or go directly to federal cabinet. Both the NDP and the Liberals have promised to lower telecom rates if they form government.