TORONTO – TekSavvy Solutions Inc. appeals to Canadian consumers for support in a politically charged battle between Canada’s independent ISPs and the major telephone and cable companies.
Bell, Rogers and Canada’s other major telephone and cable companies asked the federal cabinet in November to override a 2019 regulatory decision that cuts down on how much they can charge independent ISPs like TekSavvy.
The industry giants claimed that the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission exceeded its authority in August by cutting wholesale capacity rates by up to 43 percent and cutting access rates by up to 77 percent.
Canada’s small and medium-sized ISPs together serve around one million households using infrastructure they either own or rent.
TekSavvy Vice President Janet Lo said on Monday that the Chatham-based company – Canada’s largest independent ISP – has launched a campaign to urge the public and politicians to support the CRTC.
The campaign will include billboards, transit ads, radio commercials and social media, she added.
An ad included in a TekSavvy press release asks, “Tired of being hollowed out?”, And urges consumers to “speak up.”
“We’re just trying with general awareness to make sure all Canadians know they can have their voices heard and speak to their MPs if this issue is important to them,” Lo said in an Ottawa interview.
The Cabinet has set February 14 as the deadline to receive comments on the issue, and TekSavvy says it will collect comments via the Paylesstoconnect.ca website.
Bell and a group of other regular ISPs have also launched complementary but separate challenges through the Federal Court of Appeal and the CRTC itself.
Among other things, one of the key issues being disagreement over whether CRTC or the airlines themselves are the most qualified to calculate how much it costs the major providers to provide wholesale infrastructure.
The major airlines claim that CRTC’s audit process – which took more than three years to complete – was flawed and will undermine the confidence required to risk billions of dollars to build high quality networks.
TekSavvy claims that the major airlines are trying to use the CRTC, the courts and the Cabinet to “play the system with impunity” by inflating wholesale costs that paralyze their smaller rivals.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 20, 2020.
Companies in this history: (TSX: BCE, TSX: RCI.B, TSX: T, TSX: SJR.B, TSX: QBR.B)
David Paddon, Canadian Press