MONTRÉAL, Sept. 30, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Videotron announced today that it has asked the Competition Bureau of Canada to investigate practices in which Bell is engaging in order to slow down and, in a number of cases, even block access to its support structures (telephone poles). The application to the federal agency provides multiple documented examples of the Canadian telecommunications giant’s stratagems to limit competition. These tactics, which are depriving entire communities of access to 21st century digital infrastructure, are destructive and must be stopped.
A number of organizations and industry observers have protested vigorously about this matter in recent months. There is unanimous agreement that the current situation has unacceptable consequences for regional development and access to high-speed Internet for the greatest number.
“Bell’s anti-competitive manoeuvres must cease,” says Jean-François Pruneau, President and CEO of Videotron. “We are therefore asking the Competition Bureau to take all necessary steps to end them. Quebecers are entitled to healthy competition and quality telecommunications services. Everyone is unfairly penalized when Bell blocks access to other service providers in their region, municipality or neighbourhood. It’s simply unacceptable.”
Videotron is determined to take all necessary steps to stop this illegitimate obstruction. Therefore, it is also filing a lawsuit for damages in Superior Court. The claim seeks compensation for the losses Videotron has suffered in recent years as a result of Bell’s obstructionist manoeuvres, Videotron’s preliminary estimate of which is over $12 million.
How Bell is slowing the rollout of high-speed InternetMany other service providers have experienced Bell’s anti-competitive tactics but are reluctant to complain publicly for fear of retaliation from the telecom giant.
Typically, Bell systematically delays or simply neglects to process requests for access to its existing support structures. Often, it also throws up artificial barriers to the roll-out of competing networks, while giving its own priority. For example, it is difficult to understand why it can take Bell more than two-and-a-half years to process a request for access to a single pole. Given that Videotron submitted more than 1,400 access requests in 2019 alone, these completely unreasonable delays are causing considerable harm to the affected communities.
Harm to Québec regionsBell’s actions are slowing the development and upgrading of Internet access in all regions of Québec. While all of civil society is working together to find solutions to connectivity issues across Québec, Bell is doing the opposite by slowing the expansion of other networks in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Background to pole access issueIn view of its historical monopoly, Bell has been required by law, for more than 40 years, to allow other service providers, such as Videotron, to access its support structures (telephone poles) and install their own equipment. This legal provision is based on the public interest in keeping the number of telephone poles on the landscape to a minimum and maximizing their shared use.
Videotron (www.videotron.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is an integrated communications company engaged in cable television, entertainment, Internet access, cable telephone and mobile telephone services. Videotron is a leader in new technologies with its Helix home entertainment and management platform. As of June 30, 2020, Videotron was serving 1,497,300 cable television customers, and 472,200 subscribers to its Club illico video streaming service. Videotron is also the Québec leader in high-speed Internet access, with 1,753,100 subscribers to its cable service as of June 30, 2020. As of the same date, Videotron had 1,404,900 subscriber connections to its mobile telephone service and was providing cable telephone service to 979,600 Québec households and organizations. Videotron has been recognized as one of Montréal’s top employers.
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Videotron (www.videotron.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is an integrated communications company engaged in cable television, interactive multimedia development, Internet access, cable telephone and mobile telephone services. Videotron is a leader in…
Vidéotron, Bell Canada, Telecommunications
World news – CA – Access to telephone poles – Videotron asks for investigation into Bell’s anticompetitive practices