CRTC rules Iristel can compete with Eastlink in Aylmer, Ontario

Canada’s telecom decided that Iristel’s request for competition was bona fide

CRTC website on phone

Canada’s telecom regulator has ruled in favour of telecom service provider Iristel, allowing the company to compete with regional carrier Eastlink in the Aylmer, Ontario area.

The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) published its decision on March 5th, 2018, arguing that Iristel’s request for competition was genuine.

Iristel has until March 15th, 2018 to confirm with both Eastlink and the CRTC that the company intends on competing in the Aylmer area.

The CRTC’s March 5th decision also directs Eastlink to file a local competition implementation plan within 30 days “following a confirmation by Iristel of its intention to compete in the Aylmer exchange as a Type 1 competitive local exchange carrier [CLEC].”

“What it also means is now we’re going to be able to bring our own facilities [to the region],” said Samer Bishay, president and CEO of Iristel, in a phone interview with MobileSyrup.

Competing in Aylmer, Ontario

Iristel first attempted to enter the Aylmer area in December 2015, when the company asked Eastlink to establish local competition.

Eastlink rejected Iristel’s request, arguing that because Iristel didn’t have existing infrastructure in the region, its request was not “bona fide” — or real.

In September 9th, 2016, Iristel submitted a letter to the CRTC to resolve the dispute. However, in a letter published on October 31st, 2016, “Commission staff” said that Iristel should petition the CRTC through a formal application.

“A year-and-a-half of stifling competition benefited one company…”

The CRTC first received Iristel’s request for competition on November 17th, 2018.

Iristel’s goal was to request that the CRTC order Eastlink’s parent company Bragg Communications to implement local competition in the Aylmer area, in order to allow Iristel to establish its own telecom infrastructure and compete.

Iristel argued that, since the company operates as a CLEC in other parts of the country — as well as the fact that it plans on establishing its own telecom infrastructure in the area — that it should be allowed to compete with Eastlink.

Eastlink, the Independent Telecommunications Providers Association and Telus all submitted counterarguments to the CRTC.

CRTC ends almost two years of back-and-forth

According to the CRTC, “there are no regulatory issues with the way Iristel plans to offer local exchanges services in the Aylmer exchange.”

The CRTC also determined that there were no issues with Iristel’s  business plans or its telephone number projections.

“That’s kinda why the whole argument was a little bit funny in the sense that they said Iristel is not a CLEC,” said Bishay.

“Eastlink has and continues to be a proponent of a competitive marketplace and welcomes competitors to our service areas.”

Bishay expressed frustration with the time it took to conclude the Aylmer exchange case, but said that he doesn’t fault the CRTC.

“A year-and-a-half of stifling competition benefited one company… [but] hurt the consumer because they didn’t have a choice in it,” said Bishay.

An Eastlink spokesperson told MobileSyruvia email that the company fully respects the CRTC’s decision and “we look forward to Iristel’s introduction into this market operating under the requirements set out by the CRTC.”

“Eastlink has and continues to be a proponent of a competitive marketplace and welcomes competitors to our service areas,” said Eastlink.

Source: CRTC

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