Bell Canada tells CRTC to not force it to share last mile fiber

Bell Canada told Canada's telecom regulator Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that it and its fellow incumbent telcos Bell Aliant and Telus should not have to share its last-mile fiber-based broadband network infrastructure with competitors.

Echoing a similar sentiment heard often from U.S. operators like AT&T (NYSE: T), Bell said during a recent CRTC hearing that its investment in a fiber-based network would suffer if incumbent providers were forced to provide competitive providers like Tek Savvy access to their fiber networks.

Instead, Bell said that regulator should allow the market to drive competition.

"If there are rules in place that make building [networks] in the first place unprofitable, we will not build to a community," said Mirko Bibic, executive vice president for Bell Canada during the CRTC hearing, according to a Metro Canada report.  "The consumer will suffer from that, because they'll have the choice of only one high speed network, which is the cable network, or none at all."

However, the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, which represents competitive ISPs, dismissed Bibic's claims and said that large telcos such as Bell and Telus would have to continue investing in last-mile fiber to compete with cablecos such as Rogers, Shaw, Videotron and Cogeco.

"They have a natural incentive to build wherever there is a cable carrier because otherwise the cable carrier will eat their lunch," said Chris Tacit, the consortium's legal counsel.

Primus Canada also spoke out against Bell's claims, asking the CRTC to regulate the entire wholesale internet market, including residential direct fiber last-mile connections, to "disrupt the broadband duopoly" that it said exists in Canada

"We do not believe that a marketplace of two incumbents [Bell and Telus] is good enough for Canadian consumers," said Primus CEO Michael Nowlan during the hearing.

Despite the claims made by Primus and the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, Bibic said that the regulator should take more time to study whether they should create new regulations to drive new competition.

"None of the evidence supports mandating access to our fiber-to-the-home [FTTH] networks now," Bibic said. "So, today, don't mandate access."

Bibic added that "If [the CRTC] feels down the road … three to five years that you want to look at it again to make sure our predictions are correct, look at it again."

For more:
- Metro News has this article

Related articles:
Bell Canada's Fibe TV footprint reaches 4.6M households, but cable competition narrows sub increase
Bell Canada acquires customer centers in New Brunswick to support growing broadband base
BCE takes Bell Aliant subsidiary private, plans to continue fiber-based broadband push
Bell Aliant to extend fiber-based broadband service to 125,000 Quebec premises
Bell Canada amplifies in-home Wi-Fi speeds with 802.11ac router

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