Toronto – TekSavvy Solutions Inc. Canada is appealing to Canadian consumers to support a politically charged war between independent internet service providers and big phone and cable companies.
Bell, Rogers and other major Canadian phone and cable companies asked the federal cabinet in November to rescind a 2019 regulatory decision that would reduce how much they could charge independent ISPs like TekSavvy.
Industry giants argued that the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission exceeded its authority by reducing the wholesale power rate to 43 percent in August and the access rate to 77 percent.
Canada’s small and medium-sized ISPs collectively serve approximately one million households using their owned or leased infrastructure.
TekSavvy vice-president Janet Lowe said Monday that the Chatham-based company – Canada’s largest independent ISP – has launched a campaign to support the CRTC among the public and politicians.
The campaign will include billboards, transit ads, radio ads and social media, he added.
An ad included in the TekSavvy press release asks, “Tired of being overwhelmed?” And urges consumers to “speak up.”
“We’re just trying to raise public awareness, to make sure all Canadians know they can hear their voices and talk to their MPs if this issue is important to them,” Lowe said in an interview from Ottawa. .
The cabinet has set a February 14 deadline for comments, and TekSavvy said it would collect comments through the Paylesstoconnect.ca website.
Bell and a group of other mainstream Internet service providers have also launched complementary but separate challenges through the Federal Court of Appeal and the CRTC.
Among other things, one of the key issues of contention is how much it costs large suppliers to provide wholesale infrastructure to calculate whether CRTCs or carriers themselves are the most qualified.
Big carriers argue that CRTC’s review process – which took more than three years to complete – was flawed and would undermine the confidence they needed to risk billions of dollars to build high-quality networks.
TekSavvy argues that big carriers are trying to use the CRTC, the courts and the cabinet to “play the system with impunity” by using the inflated wholesale costs that cripple their smaller competitors.
This report was first published in The Canadian Press on January 20, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX: BCE, TSX: RCI.B, TSX: T, TSX: SJR.B, TSX: QBR.B)
David Padon, Canadian Press