CRTC Bows to Cabinet, Reverses Decision to Lower Internet Rates
TORONTO, May 28, 2021– VMedia Inc., a leading Canadian independent internet service provider, expressed disbelief at the complete reversal by the CRTC of its own prior decision to lower internet rates charged by the major telcos and cablecos (the dominant players), rates which the CRTC itself previously found to be unjust and unreasonable. That original decision, rendered in August 2019, was upheld by the courts in subsequent appeals by the dominant players.
However, in an order issued by the Federal Cabinet in August, 2020, the Trudeau government admonished the CRTC to revisit its calculations to ensure that the profits of the dominant players are not undermined. This in itself was an unprecedented and politicized interference in an ongoing administrative process, issued while the CRTC was reviewing its own decision at the request of the dominant players.
The new decision reinstates, and in some cases raises, the unjustifiably high rates in effect before 2019, forcing Canadians to continue paying exorbitant rates to the dominant players, among the highest rates in the industrialized world. And this at a time when, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Internet usage rates are at an all-time high to enable the basic functioning of the Canadian economy during this crisis.
“This is an unprecedented reversal by any tribunal in Canada,” said Alexei Tchernobrivets, CEO of VMedia. ”The decision raises serious doubts about the leadership and competence of the CRTC, and the integrity of its process, and sells out Canadians to benefit the dominant players. CRTC Chairman Ian Scott should resign, and Parliament should launch an immediate investigation into this incoherent outcome and whether political and corporate influence impacted this decision.”
The CRTC, in a five-year process initiated by former Chairman Jean Pierre Blais, found that the wholesale tariff-based rates the dominant players had been charging their customers, like VMedia, were not just and reasonable as required under the Telecommunications Act. The Commission also found that “the fact that these large companies did not respect accepted costing principles and methodologies is very disturbing.”
Now, under Chairman Scott, a former executive with Telus Corporation, one of the dominant players he is now regulating, the CRTC threw out those initial findings, reinstated the higher prices, and in some instances raised rates even further.
“This is fundamentally flawed and distorted regulation we usually see in parts of the developing world – but not in Canada,” said George Burger, a co-founder of VMedia. ”An inexplicable sudden reversal of a decision of this magnitude raises serious questions about the process, and the extent to which this government caters to the most powerful corporations in this country at the expense of everyday Canadian consumers. This is a hit-job on consumers and competitive players like VMedia, and benefits no one but the dominant players.”
VMedia will pursue every legal means to reinstate the 2019 decision to ensure Canadians eventually get the benefit of fair internet pricing.
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. It is also the parent company of RiverTV Inc., the owner of RiverTV, Canada’s first live and on demand streaming TV service. Learn more about this great new TV platform at www.rivertv.ca.