The CRTC has imposed a total of $7.5 million in penalties on Bell Canada for three violations of the Telecommunications Act, related to an ongoing dispute in regards to granting access to its telephone poles.
The CRTC found that Bell denied permit applications for access to its telephone poles from Videotron, its main competitor in Quebec. As a result of subsequent delays, Videotron network deployment was held up, creating a competitive advantage for Bell.
The decision sets the penalty for each of three violations of the act at $2.5 million each.
“It is vitally important that the market for telecommunications services be fair and competitive so that Canadians can enjoy a range of services from different providers,” said CRTC Chair Ian Scott, in a release. “Today’s decision underscores this point and demonstrates that we will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to take action to promote compliance when a company’s actions violate these principles.”
The dispute dates back to 2020 when Videotron filed an application requesting the CRTC issue orders relating to Bell Canada’s processing of access permit applications and granting of access permits to its support structures. The issue also elicited complaints from Cogeco Connexion and Maskicom who said regulatory easements announced by Bell to resolve the access issues had only allowed 13% of projects awaiting permissions to proceed.
The CRTC launched a consultation in April 2021 to determine whether the issue warranted a monetary penalty to deter future non-compliance.
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