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Government missed immediate opportunity to deliver financial relief to Canadians by lowering internet rates
TORONTO – May 26, 2022: While Distributel Communications Limited is encouraged by the new telecom policy directive announced today by the Government of Canada, the company is disappointed that the government chose not to act on appeals that would have immediately lowered internet rates for all Canadians. The new policy directive is designed to address longstanding systemic problems in Canada’s telecommunications regulatory landscape and will refocus the CRTC’s priorities toward consumer rights and competitive matters. In the short term, however, the decision to keep rates high only ensures that Canadians will continue to overpay for internet services.
Policy directives are the formal instructions from the government to the CRTC that outline the approach the Commission should take in regulating the industry. This new directive will replace two previous directives, resolving inherent contradictions that have often led to conflicting objectives in CRTC decision-making. It also addresses issues across a broad set of areas—wireless, broadband, consumer rights—taking a holistic approach to truly fixing what’s been long broken in the country’s telecom framework.
“I’m optimistic about the impact this new directive will have in the mid- to long-term” says Matt Stein, CEO of Distributel. “If implemented swiftly, this will bring tremendous benefits to Canadians in terms of choice, innovation, competition and affordability in the long term.”
In today’s announcement, the government also rejected a set of appeals in which independent telecom organizations asked it to overturn the CRTC’s 2021 ruling on wholesale internet rates. That decision reversed the CRTC’s previous ruling from 2019, in which it lowered wholesale internet rates after having determined them to be inflated by big telecom and cable providers following years of detailed cost analysis.
“The government had a real opportunity to act on those appeals and mandate lower wholesale rates,” says Stein, “which would have put money back into the pockets of Canadians. That would have had an immediate impact. While the broader proposed policy changes will benefit Canadians in the long-term, the government missed a very real chance to bring immediate, tangible benefits to Canadian consumers.”
Today’s directive will now go out for review by industry players, who have sixty days to return their comments. “It’s critical that this proposed draft not be watered down,” says Stein. “The concepts set out in today’s proposed directive must be protected, if not strengthened, throughout the comment period. And once a final directive is issued, we need the CRTC and the industry as a whole to put the new guidance into place quickly.”
Distributel has long been a promoter of competition in this country. “We remain committed to driving competition in the industry,” continues Stein, “and to making the investments necessary to ensure Canadians have fair, affordable choices when it comes to their internet services.” He says despite the unfortunate decision on wholesale rates, Distributel will continue building the kinds of innovative networks and services that its customers rely on every day as they work, play, and connect.
Established in 1988, Distributel is a national, award-winning, independent communications provider offering a wide range of consumer, business and wholesale communications services. In 2020, the company proudly achieved certification as a Great Place to Work®, earning recognition for its progressive, collaborative workplace. 100% Canadian-owned, with offices across the country and a national network, Distributel is focused on providing choice and value to Canadians. With the acquisition of Primus Telecommunications, the company is even better positioned to offer solutions to consumers and businesses of all sizes. Distributel offers high speed internet, TV, mobile and home phone products through its consumer brands. It delivers business solutions through the Primus and ThinkTel brands as a provider of advanced voice and data offerings for the SMB and Enterprise markets throughout Canada. The company also forges new partnerships and brings innovative services to the wholesale market. For more information, visit www.distributel.ca.
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