CRTC grants incumbents’ stay request regarding lowered wholesale rates

The lowered wholesale rates won't be implemented just yet

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved a stay request from the incumbents regarding its wholesale rates decision from 2019.

“Given the commission’s findings that the applicants have met the three criteria in the RJR-MacDonald test, the commission approves Bell Canada’s and the cable carriers’ requests to stay the implementation of the final rates established pending its final determinations on the review and vary requests,” the CRTC notes in its decision.

Following the August 2019 decision, the carriers filed review and vary applications to the CRTC, which is one of three avenues that the incumbents took to appeal the rates.

Today’s decision from the CRTC means that a stay on the implementation of the lowered wholesale rates has been granted, pending the commission’s final determinations from the review and vary applications.

For context, wholesale rates are paid by competitors, like TekSavvy and Distributel, which then get access to high-speed networks from incumbents like Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Rates are set so that incumbents can charge for this access after the CRTC reviews information regarding how much it costs to operate networks.

In August 2019, the CRTC lowered wholesale rates that larger carriers can charge internet service providers (ISPs) and also ordered them to make payments to compensate for the previously higher rates.

Rogers, Shaw Communications, Eastlink, Cogeco, and Vidéotron in a joint venture, and Bell independently, appealed the regulatory decision. The Federal Court then suspended the wholesale rates decision until final judgement.

On September 10th, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the incumbents’ appeals. The incumbents had argued that the CRTC erred in law or jurisdiction, but the court ruled that it did not find evidence for this claim. By denying the appeals, the court removed the stay.

The court had then ordered the appellants to pay the costs of the appeal to TekSavvy and the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC). TekSavvy then released a statement demanding an immediate refund from Bell and Rogers.

However, now the CRTC has granted another stay on the lowered wholesale rates, which means that the CRTC won’t enforce the rates until its review and vary process is finished.

It’s important to note that the incumbents may also appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court, which could delay matters even further.

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