March 1, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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BCE must open up its fiber optic network, Federal Court of Appeal rules

BCE must open up its fiber optic network, Federal Court of Appeal rules

Bell Canada ( BCE ) will eventually have to open its fiber optic network to smaller independent providers, a federal court of appeals ruled, a day after the company announced 4,800 job cuts.

• Also Read: Bell cut 4,800 jobs and reduced its media in Quebec

• Also Read: Opening up its fiber optic network: Bell wants to avoid losing millions

• Also Read: Fiber Internet: No competition in Quebec within 6 months

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decreed last November that the two telecommunications giants that developed fiber optic networks – Bell and Telus Communication – must open them to resellers within six months to stimulate competition. This is an interim decision that applies only to Quebec and Ontario, pending further consideration by the CRTC in this matter.

Since then, BCE has challenged the provisional decision in court. A request for an injunction to prevent the consequences, however, was denied by Judge Mary JL Gleason in a decision handed down Friday.

The ruling represents a setback for BCE, which cited among other reasons the mandatory opening of its fiber optic network to resellers to justify some of the 4,800 job cuts announced last Thursday.

“We are concerned about the CRTC's recent decision to force us to provide resellers with access to our high-speed fiber optic network, even after we are able to recoup our multi-billion dollar investments,” he said. CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, Mirko Bibic, on Thursday.

The company says it has invested nearly $4 billion annually to develop its network over the past decade. In the wake of the CRTC's decision, BCE also reduced its investments by $1 billion in 2024-2025.

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Judge Mary JL Gleason held that BCE failed to demonstrate that it suffered irreparable harm as a result of the CRTC's decision.

“Bell's own choice to redirect or reduce investments did not cause irreparable harm, but the corporate choice it made as a result of the CRTC decision. “In the absence of evidence that Bell's very existence would be endangered by enforcement of temporary access, why would I fail to make the necessary investments to implement the CRTC's decision rather than irreparably harm other investments,” Judge Gleason emphasized.

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