Briefing

TekSavvy asks Competition Bureau to investigate Bell and Rogers

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The Chatham, Ont.-based internet firm claims the two telecom giants manipulated wholesale internet prices, driving up costs for millions of Canadians by hundreds of millions of dollars. TekSavvy is seeking a monetary penalty of $10 million for each telecom, as well as an order for Bell and Rogers to change how they price their products. Speaking at the ongoing CRTC wireless hearings on Friday, Andy Kaplan-Myrth, TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory and carrier affairs, also said the company had unsuccessfully negotiated with an unnamed incumbent wireless carrier to buy access to its network at wholesale rates. He called for policies to enable mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)—which operate through such agreements—with no requirement to build infrastructure. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the latest salvo in a multi-front battle being waged between smaller telecoms and major incumbents. One front is the Federal Court of Appeal, where Bell and Rogers have secured a temporary stay so they don’t have to lower prices for wholesale sellers like TekSavvy. TekSavvy mentioned that court case repeatedly in its call, and urged the Competition Bureau to open an investigation despite the ongoing case. Another front is with federal regulators, toward which the major telecoms are increasingly amping up their rhetoric. The CEOs of Bell and Rogers have warned they’ll reduce investments if regulators rule against them. And, on Thursday, Telus CEO Darren Entwistle said it would cut $1 billion in investment and 5,000 staff if the federal government mandates MVNOs. For its part, the Competition Bureau has issued a number of telecom reports recently—including one earlier this week calling for the introduction of some MVNOs—but has not announced a public investigation targeting specific firms.