Bell and Telus fight back in broadband campaign

MONTREAL — Major telecom players Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) are being targeted in a campaign for affordable broadband Internet services to businesses and consumers.

MONTREAL — Major telecom players Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) are being targeted in a campaign for affordable broadband Internet services to businesses and consumers.

Smaller competitor MTS Allstream (TSX:MBT) along with the Canadian Association of Internet Service Providers launched a campaign Thursday that they say will help preserve competition in broadband services.

They want Canadians as well as businesses to sign the petition that takes aim at a CRTC decision that the coalition says enables Canada’s two biggest telecom companies to shut out competitors.

The coalition said it wants to make sure network facilities built by Bell and Telus are accessible and affordable to a range of competitors, also offering broadband services. The coalition also includes the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“They will either not give us access at all or charge us markups of 300 or 1,000 per cent, rates that the competitive market would never support,” MTS chief corporate officer Chris Peirce said.

The result is less competition, he said from Winnipeg.

“The effect you can see in the marketplace, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, and for consumers in some instances, is that price are going up. Those prices have been deregulated.”

Peirce said Canadians should sign the petition to show Ottawa they have grassroots support. He’s hoping that cabinet will either overturn the decision or get the CRTC to take another look at its ruling when it makes a decision in December.

Both Bell and Telus say the CRTC has already rejected MTS Allstream’s request.

Bell’s Mirko Bibic said MTS’s campaign is misleading and is really about high-capacity fibre networks that are needed to deliver services to big businesses, such as banks.

“So this has nothing to do with consumer Internet services,” said Bibic, senior vice-president of regulatory and government affairs.

“MTS does not compete outside Manitoba in the consumer Internet space.”

Bibic said Allstream is one of Bell’s biggest customers for deregulated services and Bell is willing to negotiate.

“What MTS wants is for these services to continue to be regulated with the price even lower. They want it at cost. We don’t want to sell it to them at cost. We are putting all the risk capital up.”

Michael Hennessy, senior vice-president of government and regulatory affairs at Telus, said MTS should make the appropriate network investments and expect to pay commercial rates for services.

“The day of the subsidy has to be over if we’re going to build world-class Internet networks in this country. We’re happy to provide services if it’s based on commercial rates,” Hennessy said.

“We’re not trying to build something that MTS can piggyback on without actually making the investments they need to remain competitive in this country.”

Telecom analysts were divided on the campaign.

Ian Grant of the SeaBoard Group said he supports MTS Allstream’s point of view on competition and believed the CRTC decision was flawed, adding there’s a good chance it will be overturned.

“It’s a giant step backward for competition in Canada,” he said, adding that prices will rise and the entire market will suffer.

However Mark Goldberg disagreed, saying the coalition is trying to change the rules and influence what will ultimately be a political decision by cabinet.

Companies reselling Internet services should look beyond telecom companies to build network facilities, he said, citing cable companies as one example.

“What they should be focusing on is investing in infrastructure, finding backers for real investments,’ said Goldberg of Goldberg & Associates Inc. in Thornhill, Ont.”

Just Posted

Break-in at Red Deer business

Social media reports confirm a business break and enter in Red Deer… Continue reading

‘Rough waters’: Spill raises new questions about fast-growing N.L. oil industry

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s ambitious plans to dramatically expand… Continue reading

Trudeau rules out snap election call, national ballot slated for Oct. 21

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there will be no early… Continue reading

Canadian firm says it has found largest diamond ever unearthed in North America

YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian mining firm says it has unearthed the largest… Continue reading

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Man who demolished landmark house ordered to build replica

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval… Continue reading

Quebecers criticize western oil but buying more gasoline, SUVs, bigger homes: report

MONTREAL — Quebec’s premier is quick to reject “dirty” oil from Western… Continue reading

Speaker Geoff Regan opens the door to his apartment in Parliament

OTTAWA — One of the best-kept secrets inside the main building on… Continue reading

Baloo the cat is back at home after being mistakenly shipped to Montreal

HALIFAX — Much to the relief of his loving family, Baloo the… Continue reading

‘It’s what we do’: Famous Newfoundlanders help replace veteran’s stolen guitar

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Two famous Newfoundlanders stepped in to help an… Continue reading

Quebec’s anti-corruption unit blames media coverage for recruiting troubles

MONTREAL — Seven years after it was created, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit is… Continue reading

Former PQ cabinet minister poised to become next Bloc Quebecois leader

MONTREAL — It appears likely that Yves-Francois Blanchet, a former Parti Quebecois… Continue reading

Most Read