ISPs applaud court’s dismissal of incumbents’ appeals over CRTC wholesale rates

TekSavvy is demanding an immediate refund from Bell and Rogers

Independent carriers are applauding the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling dismissing incumbents’ appeals to reverse the CRTC’s lowered wholesale rates.

The court has stated that the appeals have been dismissed and has ordered the appellants to pay the costs of the appeal to TekSavvy and the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC).

Matt Stein, CNOC Chair and the CEO of Distributel, told MobileSyrup in an interview that today’s decision is a win for Canadians.

“This is a great day for Canadians. This is a complete vindication of the arguments that CNOC’s been putting forward for a long time,” Stein stated.

“A unanimous decision of a three judge panel dismissed it right across the board. So it’s a great day for Canadians and I’m hopeful that this means that we’re getting close to finally getting on with it and implementing these new rates so the competitors can do what we do best, which is translate those into better prices for Canadians.”

Stein went on to note that today’s ruling means that a pivotal chapter in the fight for lower rates is finished, but that there’s more to come in regards to the rates.

There’s a possibility that things may get further delayed if the incumbents attempt to take the fight against the rates to the Supreme Court.

“I certainly hope that we can just get on with it and start offering good value to Canadians by having fair pricing. However, if they do go to the Supreme court, well then unfortunately, that means we have to go through that process,” he said.

The telcos also waiting for the CRTC to complete its R&V (review and vary) filed by the carriers, which is essentially another avenue that the incumbents have taken to appeal the rates.

Andy Kaplan-Myrth, the vice-president of regulatory and carrier affairs at TekSavvy stated in an interview that the company is pleased the court saw through the arguments laid out by the incumbents in the appeals.

“We’re very pleased with the decision. The court basically adopted our position and saw through the arguments that the incumbents were trying to raise,” he stated. 

However, Kaplan-Myrth noted that there’s still going to be some time before consumers see benefit from this, and that this will only happen if the CRTC doesn’t change course.

Further, TekSavvy has also stated that it is owed tens of millions of dollars by the large carriers, and that it expects that the CRTC will once again direct the large carriers to file updated tariffs with the corrected final rates and to refund money owed.

“Until that outstanding balance is paid, in full, TekSavvy will be applying the amounts owed, with interest, as a monthly credit on the wholesale fees charged by Bell and Rogers,” the carrier said in a press release.

The ISP has said that it will cease payments until CRTC-ordered rate correction and refunds are received in full.

London, Ontario-based Start.ca says the decision is a great step forward in bringing affordable internet rates to Canadians.

The company’s president and CEO, Peter Rocca, told MobileSyrup in an email that he’s “pleased that the Federal Court of Appeal was able to see through the legal complaints of the big carriers, as them simply not liking the result of the detailed and disciplined CRTC decision last August.”

“While there is still an outstanding appeal to the commission and processes that will need to complete before competitors receive the new rates, today’s court decision was a great step forward in bringing affordable internet rates to Canadians,” he stated.

VMedia has released a statement applauding the decision and saying it’s a vindication of the CRTC’s years-long process into announcing the wholesale rates.

“The unanimous decision of the three judge panel and its relatively quick determination, less than three months after the hearing, is a clear signal of how frivolous and desperate the appeal was in the first place,” VMedia’s co-founder, George Burger, said in a press release.

Update 10/09/20 7:45pm ET: The article was updated to include TekSavvy’s decision to demand immediate refunds from Rogers and Bell.