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FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL RULES IN FAVOUR OF CRTC AND CANADIAN INTERNET CONSUMERS!
Quick Decision and Award of Costs to Small ISPs a Rebuke to Big Telcos – and to Cabinet
Toronto, ON-September 10, 2020 – VMedia Inc. applauds the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA), released this morning, summarily dismissing an application by Canada’s major telcos to strike down an August, 2019 decision by the CRTC that rates charged by all the major telcos (including cablecos) for internet services were not just and reasonable.Canadian residential internet rates charged by the major telcos rank among the highest in the industrialized world.
The FCA’s decision also calls into question the judgement of the Federal Cabinet in its recent Order, responding to a similar petition by the major telcos, which seeks to interfere with the CRTC’s findings and cause it to readjust its decision in favour of the major telcos.
“The unanimous decision of the three judge panel and its relatively quick determination, less than three months after the hearing, is a clear signal of how frivolous and desperate the appeal was in the first place,” said George Burger, co-founder of VMedia. “Together with the award of costs to the competitive independent internet providers, this vindication of the CRTC’s years-long process makes the much-derided Cabinet order of last month look even more like an unnecessary pander to the major telcos, at the expense of Canadian consumers.”
The FCA decision found that the central argument before it, that the CRTC found the rates charged by the major telcos to not be “just and reasonable” is a question of fact, and questions of fact are not subject to appellate review.
The Order from Cabinet, however, calls into question the CRTC’s factual findings, and asks the CRTC to reconsider its decision.
“The FCA’s decision, that it is all about the facts,” said Alexei Tchernobrivets, CEO of VMedia, “ makes the opinion of the Cabinet, an inexpert body which did not spend six years reviewing the facts, that the CRTC erred in its findings, appear to be without foundation. It is unjustifiably supportive of the major telcos, and extremely disadvantageous to hard working Canadians, for whom the internet is the most essential of services, especially at this time.”
On August 15, 2020, Cabinet issued an order setting out its expectations that the CRTC amend the terms of its decision it issued in August, 2019, which found that the rates charged by the incumbent major telecom and cable companies for internet services for at least the past five years were not ”just and reasonable”. These inflated rates have resulted in unjustifiably higher prices paid by all Canadians for internet services.
In effect, Cabinet is seeking to substitute its own findings, based on extensive and secret lobbying campaigns by the incumbents, for that of the CRTC- which, in contrast, came to its conclusions after conducting a six-year long, completely transparent process, including hearings and analysis involving the world’s leading experts on internet costs.
The major telcos apparently succeeded in convincing Cabinet, which they could not do with the CRTC, that the CRTC decision would make them unable to invest in rural internet service improvements. This threat is a staple in all rate-setting hearings, and despite decisions unfavourable to the incumbents in the past, their investments have never been impaired. Moreover, in its intervention against the incumbents’ petition to Cabinet, VMedia pointed out to Cabinet that the cost to the incumbents resulting from the CRTC decision was a rounding error- less than one-half of one percent of their profits over the last six years.
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VMedia is Canada’s leading independent telecom and broadcasting company available coast-to-coast, offering unlimited Internet, TV, Home Phone and Home Security services. VMedia’s mission is to provide the most affordable prices, the best choice and flexibility, dedicated consumer advocacy and ongoing service innovation. VMedia is recognized as an innovation leader in the industry, as the first to launch numerous consumer-friendly service and packaging features, and in particular is a pioneer in the development of live TV streaming solutions and IPTV broadcast technology, offering affordable choice and easy access to all your favourite TV entertainment. Visit www.vmedia.ca.