Bell was reprimanded in 2021 for the “unreasonable delays” imposed on its competitor Videotron for access to its telephone poles and was fined a total of $7.5 million for three violations on Wednesday telecommunications law.
Posted at 12:07 p.m
Updated at 3:49 p.m
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has not fully granted the motion by Videotron and an Ottawa ISP, the Community Fiber Company, who proposed during hearings in April 2021 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 stake owners who deal with thousands of construction projects annually, each with unique considerations and challenges,” Bell had argued, essentially summarizing the CRTC.
Financial capacity and actions
In its decision published on Wednesday, the federal agency notes from the outset that it did not have to reevaluate the reprimand issued to Bell in April 2021 following a complaint filed by Videotron in June 2020. Acknowledging that the Canadian telecoms giant has taken steps to facilitate access to its poles, it “doubts the effectiveness of some of those 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 in access to poles and “to some extent reduce the likelihood of future non-compliance,” it said. A figure of 7.5 million seems reasonable, but Bell warns: “The Commission will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action in the event of future breaches. »
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.
Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau took to his Twitter account to denounce the “undue advantage” Bell is giving itself by denying its competitor access to its infrastructure. “Hard to be clearer! he tweeted. Bell’s anti-competitive delaying maneuvers against Videotron are serious violations of the Telecoms Act, which earned him a record CRTC fine. »
“We are aware of the decision and have no comment to make at this time,” said Caroline Audet, spokeswoman for Bell.