Telus speaks out, petitions against CRTC wholesale rates decision

Telus believes the CRTC wholesale rate decision could affect all future decisions that would be made

For the first time, Telus, the Vancouver-based national carrier, has voiced its opinion on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wholesale rates decision and has also filed a petition with the Governor in Council to reverse the decision.

The decision to petition comes shortly after the five major cable carriers (Rogers, Shaw Communications, Eastlink, Cogeco, and Videotron) submitted a joint petition, and Montreal-based carrier Bell filed its own petition.

Wholesale rates are paid by competitors — such as TekSavvy or Distributel — which then get access to high-speed networks of larger telecommunications companies like Bell, Rogers, Telus and Shaw. Rates are set so that incumbents can charge for this access after the CRTC reviews information regarding how much it costs to operate networks.

Because of the rate change that was made in August, the resellers have been able to reduce the cost of home internet services for customers, while at the same time, larger carriers feel like they’re not getting fair value from the decision.

Thus far, however, Telus hadn’t voiced its opinion on the CRTC’s decision.

In a document obtained by MobileSyrup, the carrier writes: “Telecommunications services — and their regulation — have policy impacts beyond just the communications industry. Broadband Internet drives positive policy outcomes for the environment, healthcare and rural-development. The Commission has in every respect failed to take these considerations into account.”

It adds that the new rate changes “depress future investment” and compromise “positive policy outcomes” that broadband internet services can deliver, especially in remote and rural areas.

In the document, Telus is urging the Governor in Council to “remedy this critical shortcoming” and have the CRTC “take into account the broader interests of the public at large when determining its policies and regulations.”

Telus argues that there is no “coherence” between the CRTC’s decision and what the government’s broader policy objective and goals are for the country.

The carrier asks that the Governor in Council “exercise its power” in section 12 of the Telecommunications Act that would send a decision back to the CRTC for reconsideration.

“This relief will allow the Governor in Council to efficiently remedy the destabilizing effects of the retroactive order, while also affording the Commission the opportunity to determine how precisely, within its framework, to best operationalize this policy guidance,” Telus wrote.

Like all of the other carriers, Telus emphasizes that having such low wholesale rates will reduce the incentive for facilities-based carriers from wanting to invest in expanding network infrastructure.

Telus adds that this will “lend to lower levels of network quality and innovation.”

The carrier also indicates that by applying rates retroactively, the CRTC has “destabilized regulation and increased the risk for future investments in broadband infrastructure.”

Telus cites that the decision creates a “dangerous precedent” for future decisions, especially with respect to a future decision on whether or not the CRTC will mandate mobile virtual network operators or a decision on disaggregated wholesale high-speed internet access to fibre-to-the-home (which the CRTC said a decision was forthcoming).

“The unfortunate result, if not corrected now, is that the decision will have a lasting and detrimental impact on future regulation, as Canada is on the cusp of hybrid wireless-wireline 5G networks and billions of dollars of investments are needed to make this a reality,” the document read.

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