The CRTC is also setting the interim rates that competitors will pay when selling services over these fibre-to-the-home networks.
CRTC said it is taking this action due to the significant decline in competition for broadband services.
A public hearing on the issue is set for February 12, 2024.
“The CRTC is acting quickly to improve Internet services competition across Canada. Today’s initial decision will bring new options to more than five million households. As the CRTC’s review advances, Canadians can expect continued action to increase choice and affordability, while supporting investment in high-quality networks,” stated Vicky Eatrides, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC.
In response, Bell Canada has declared plans to cut its capital spending by more than $1 billion in the 2024-25 period, which includes a projected reduction of between $500 to $600 million in 2024 alone. This funding was initially earmarked for extending high-speed fibre Internet access to a substantial number of homes and businesses across rural, suburban, and urban areas. Furthermore, this cutback comes on top of a $100 million reduction in Bell’s 2023 capital expenditure budget, a move made in anticipation of the CRTC’s decision to steadfastly enforce wholesale access, a policy that Bell views as detrimental to essential network investments.
“When others scaled back investment at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell leaned in and accelerated our annual capital expenditures to historic levels to provide Canadians with the reliable connectivity that they needed. Since 2020, we have invested over $18 billion in our networks and expanded high-speed fibre Internet to over three million homes and businesses across Québec, Ontario, Atlantic Canada and Manitoba. When public policy conditions in telecommunications support major investments and job creation, Canadians in small and large communities benefit directly from the best network technology available,” stated Mirko Bibic, President and Chief Executive Officer, BCE and Bell Canada.