When the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reversed its own ill-conceived 2019 wholesale rates decision last month, the term “invest” shows up 56 times. “The Commission’s long-term objective in the wholesale HSA service market is to encourage competition and, in particular, facilities-based competition.”
And, when the federal Cabinet looked at that 2019 decision, it was also concerned about investment, warning:
On the basis of its review, the Governor in Council considers that the rates do not, in all instances, appropriately balance the policy objectives of the wholesale services framework and is concerned that these rates may undermine investment in high-quality networks, particularly in rural and remote areas.
Cabinet chose not to explicitly overturn the 2019 decision, saying “Given that the CRTC is already reviewing its decision, it is unnecessary to refer the decision back to the CRTC for reconsideration at this time.” But the message was clear in its August 2020 press release: “Canada’s future depends on connectivity”.
So, it should not have been a surprise that the Commission has continued nearly 30 years of support for facilities-based competition.
Since that May decision, there has been a steady stream of substantial investments announcements in major telecom infrastructure, for example:
- Bell: Bell’s biggest-ever network acceleration plan gets bigger with additional investment now up to $1.7 billion over the next 2 years;
- Rogers: When staying connected mattered most, Rogers enabled and enhanced connectivity to more than 1,000 communities across Canada, faster than at any time in company history;
- TELUS: TELUS unleashes Canada’s fastest Internet speeds and invests $2 billion to expand its fibre optic network in Calgary;
- SaskTel: SaskTel doubling its investment to bring advanced fibre optic broadband infrastructure to rural communities across Saskatchewan;
- among many, many more.
In its May 27, 2021 determination to vary its 2019 wholesale rates, the CRTC said “that making the interim rates final would further incent and foster investments and facilities-based competition.” Over the past month, Canada’s major facilities-based carriers have accelerated capital plans like never before.
The system is working.
Canada’s future depends on connectivity, and investment in connectivity is well underway.