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Bell Canada To Take Ball, Go Home
Fights ruling requiring they share next-gen networks
by Karl Bode 08:55AM Friday Mar 13 2009 Tipped by fatness See Profile
Users in our Canadian broadband forums note that Bell Canada's parent company, BCE is appealing a CRTC decision that would require the carrier to give competitors access to their next generation networks. Like other monopolist carriers with the luxury here and in the UK, Bell Canada is essentially telling the CRTC that unless they're given what they want from the government, they won't upgrade to next-generation technology. Again, like other monopoly carriers, Bell pulls out all the scariest suggestions as to what their decision to play carrot/stick with the government might entail, from the creation of a digital divide -- to further global economic woes:
By inhibiting investments in next-generation networks, the CRTC decision would create a new urban digital divide - in stark contrast to the government's own policy priorities for the Canadian economy. . .The cabinet needs to act urgently to prevent the further damage to the Canadian economy that would result from a slowdown in investment in a sector crucial to all Canadians.
Of course Bell Canada makes an absolutely fantastic profit whether forced to share access to their network or not, so the real issue is that they simply don't want the added competition, because it would reduce revenues. A common refrain from those who dislike mandatory network sharing is that competitors should build their own networks, though in markets where incumbent lobbyists all but directly control lawmakers (and that's very much the case with the CRTC), it quickly becomes an impractical if not impossible request.

In France, local-loop unbundling resulted in competitors getting powerful enough to build their own fiber networks, creating the type of facilities-based competition so many claim they're looking for. Of course, like the U.S., much of Bell Canada's original network was built with taxpayer dollars -- though here in the States, we've since decided that carriers shouldn't be forced to provide access to next-generation networks like FiOS or U-Verse, ensuring a one or two horse competitive race in many markets for years to come.

Canada continues to mirror our broadband policy in the States, a policy that's really quite simple: give the largest phone companies everything they ask for.

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