Bell was reprimanded in 2021 for the “unreasonable delays” imposed on its competitor Videotron in accessing its telephone poles and was fined a total of 7.5 million on Wednesday for three breaches of the law telecommunications law.
Posted at 12:07 p.m
Updated at 1:06 p.m
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) did not fully grant the motion by Videotron and an Ottawa ISP, the Community Fiber Company, who proposed during the April 2021 hearings that the maximum fine of 10 million per violation be imposed. In particular, Videotron had argued that Bell’s practices were “clearly contrary to the public interest and should be subject to substantial enforcement action to deter future violations. »
For its part, Bell felt it had made “credulous mistakes”, such as running its own fiber on masts that Videotron was nevertheless denied access to. “Infallibility cannot be the norm for tower owners who deal with thousands of construction projects annually, each with unique considerations and challenges,” Bell argued in what is essentially summarized in the CRTC.
Financial capacity and actions
In its decision released Wednesday, the federal agency notes upfront that it did not need to reevaluate the complaint served on Bell in April 2021 following a complaint by Videotron filed in June 2020. We acknowledge that the Canadian telecoms giant has taken certain measures to facilitate access to its poles, but we “question the effectiveness of some of these measures.”
The CRTC estimates that Bell would be financially able to pay the maximum of $30 million for the three violations. However, some mitigating factors are considered, including that Bell’s actions should reduce delays for pole access and “to some extent reduce the likelihood of future non-compliance,” it writes. A total fine of 7.5 million seems appropriate, but Bell warns: “The Commission will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, take the appropriate measures in the event of future violations. »
For CRTC Chairman Ian Scott, this move reaffirms certainty that Canada’s telecoms market will be “fairer and more competitive.” “Today’s decision underscores that point and shows that when a company’s actions violate these principles, we will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to take action to promote compliance,” he said in a statement.
“We are aware of the decision and have no comment to make at this time,” said Caroline Audet, spokeswoman for Bell. Quebecor had not responded to inquiries The press at the time of this writing.