The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has hit Bell Canada with a C$7.5 million fine for not sharing its telephone poles with Quebecor’s Videotron.
Quebecor, the parent company of Videotron, first filed a complaint in June 2020 over denied permits to deploy its services using Bell’s telephone poles. The company argued that by denying or delaying access to its infrastructure, Bell was able to deploy its own networks first, allowing it to gather customers sooner when there were fewer alternatives.
In one estimate, Videotron alleged that Bell’s actions affected at least 1,400 residences or businesses, resulting in C$181,000 in losses.
After a two-year investigation, the CRTC concluded that Bell did indeed impede Videotron’s network development and created a competitive advantage for itself in Quebec, Videotron’s main service area. The commission found that Bell had committed three violations of the Telecommunications Act, imposing fines amounting to C$2.5 million for each.
In its decision, the CRTC noted that Bell required Videotron to comply with construction standards that Bell itself had not complied with and unreasonably delayed its application processes.
The hefty fine is actually lower than what Videotron had asked for. It had originally asked the commission to impose a C$10 million fine, the maximum penalty allowed for a first-time offense, to set an example and to deter future violations.
“It is vitally important that the market for telecommunications services be fair and competitive so that Canadians can enjoy a range of services from different providers. Today’s decision underscores this point and demonstrates that we will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to take action to promote compliance when a company’s actions violate these principles,” said Ian Scott, chairperson of the CRTC, in the press release.