Cheaper Internet?

CBJ — Don’t get too excited just yet, but a decision from Ottawa could soon pave the way for cheaper Internet service for Canadian customers.

The federal cabinet is supporting a CRTC decision that forces Canada’s big Internet providers to share their high-speed infrastructure with smaller carriers at a wholesale cost.

Bell Canada had asked the Liberal government to overrule the regulator’s decision, saying it would discourage innovation.

But the minister responsible for the telecom industry, Navdeep Bains, said that middle-class and low-income families need access to affordable, high-speed internet.

Bell had argued that the regulation could slow innovation by forcing it to stop investing in technology. It said that in order to support the business case for expanding its fibre optic network, it needed customers to subscribe not just to Internet, but also home phone and TV services.

Bell’s appeal followed a July 2015 decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which ordered Canada’s Big Three telecom giants to provide other Internet providers with wholesale access to their fibre optic networks.  It’s something that quite simply has never happened.

Former Wind Mobile CEO Tony Lacavera said it would actually be cheaper for his company to build its own towers rather than lease space from Bell, Rogers or Telus. But the government — and the public — have never wanted more large ugly cell phone towers and especially not when sharing is a perfectly legitimate option.