For those of you who don’t live and breathe internet regulatory news like we do, the CRTC stands for the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Essentially, the CRTC is supposed to operate as an independent public authority in charge of regulating and supervising Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications. On the CRTC website, they describe their role as it pertains to the internet services industry as follows: “We set wholesale rates to facilitate greater competition between Internet service providers and to promote innovative broadband services and affordable prices.” At least, that’s supposed to be what their mandate is.
Lately, it’s been pretty hard to keep up with them considering their ever-changing stance on internet access rates in Canada. The CRTC’s recent decision to reverse its own 2019 ruling is hard for us to understand. We know it’s confusing for many of our customers too, which is why we’ve put together the following graphic to help illustrate the long and winding road of the CRTC’s access rate saga.
click here to access text only version
Timeline of events:
- November 2014 – A review of how wholesale internet services are priced is launched. The results will determine the rates that independent providers like Start.ca pay to access internet infrastructure in Canada.
- 2015 – The review is completed and new rates are announced.
- March 2016 – Doubt about the validity of the rates is raised. Interim rates set while CRTC undertakes a comprehensive review of the documentation.
- 2016 – 2019 – CRTC investigation unfolds. Years of financial and technical data are reviewed.
- August 2019 –The CRTC concludes that the rates are too high. In landmark victory for consumers, CRTC orders the big networks to lower access rates.
- October 2019 – Start.ca responds by lowering prices and increasing speeds for many of our customers.
- November 2019 – The big networks file appeals to federal court, the Cabinet (Federal Government), and the CRTC in effort to have the decision overturned. This freezes the lowered rates from being implemented.
- August 2020 – The cabinet declines to overturn the decision but issues a problematic statement that suggests this may take longer than we had hoped.
- August 2020 – Start.ca announces a price increase of $5-$10 on some internet plans, effective as of November, 2020. This is the first price increase for Start.ca customers since the company was established in 1995. In most cases, customers still pay less than they were before plan prices were lowered in 2019.
- August 2020 – Many other smaller Canadian ISPs react to frozen rates by also raising prices.
- September 2020 – WIN! The federal court refuses to overturn the CRTC ruling.
- November 2020 – The big networks take their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
- February 2021 – WIN! The Supreme Court throws out the big networks’ appeal.
- May 2021 – CRTC inexplicably opts to reverse its own 2019 regulatory decision to implement lower internet access rates in Canada. We revert back to the 2016 rates – the same rates that the CRTC had previously stated were far too high.
- June 2021 –Start.ca announces price increase of $5-$10 on some of our internet plans, effective as of September 2021. Most package prices return to where they were prior to Start.ca’s 2019 price decrease.
- June 2021 – Most other independent providers begin announcing upcoming price adjustments in wake of CRTC’s reversal. The general consensus is that internet prices across Canada will continue to rise.
- July 2021 – Start.ca and consortium of other indie internet operators (CNOC) appeals to the Government of Canada to overturn CRTC’s flip-flop and reinstate the 2019 rates.
- May 2022 – Government of Canada declines to overturn the CRTC decision, resulting in the continuation of the higher rates we pay for services.
Who are we talking about?
CNOC: Competitive Network Operators of Canada AKA consortium of other indie internet operators
CRTC: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
What can you do to help?
Every voice counts, and if you want to join in, please visit www.start.ca/affordable to sign the petition and have your voice heard.
Sign the petition https://www.cnoc.tech/iwantaffordableinternet
Read more about how the CRTC’s recent decision has impacted the consumer and Start.ca here: ****
Thank you for supporting us.