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Stop Big Telecom's Stranglehold on Canadian Households

10/07/2013 05:25 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault is speaking out and calling for regulators to prevent Big Telecom giants from blocking our access to affordable independent services. Gaudrault's call comes after many of his company's users recently experienced prolonged service delays -- delays that appear to be rightly blamed on Big Telecom conglomerates that are acting like gatekeepers to the Internet.

Big telecom companies like Rogers, Bell, and Telus control access to digital infrastructure that indie ISPs like Teksavvy, Distributel, and Acanac require to deliver service. The indie ISPs are mandated to pay for the cost of managing the infrastructure plus a markup. In other words they have to pay for the cost of the networks plus a guaranteed profit for Big Telecom. This is even more galling when we consider that Big Telecom enjoys government support such as being exempt from paying rent on public land used for the infrastructure.

Now Big Telecom's control is being used to create Internet outages that in some cases have lasted upwards of 10 to 15 days. Teksavvy is now teaming up with indie ISPs from right across Canada to call on the CRTC to step in to ensure that customers of indie ISPs are treated equally with those of Big Telecom. Specifically, they're asking that the CRTC "ensure that Cable Carriers comply with their existing legal duty to meet service intervals for installations, repair and disconnections with the same standards applicable to the Cable Carriers' own retail operations."

In other words, if indie ISPs are going to pay cost-based rates plus a guaranteed margin of profit to Big Telecom, then Big Telecom should be legally required to provide Canadian customers of indie ISPs the same access to Internet infrastructure as they provide their own customers. This should be an easy decision for the CRTC.

In reality the CRTC and the government should stop playing whack a mole and fully open up our networks by splitting them from Big Telecom control so Canadians can access all providers on an equal basis. We've seen again and again how Big Telecom will take any chance they can to mistreat and price-gouge Canadians, and it's time to make these common sense reforms.

The fact is independent ISPs are desperately needed by Canadians who pay some of the highest rates for Internet access in the industrialized world. The CRTC's recent annual Communications Monitoring Report exposed just how much Big Telecom's grip on our networks is costing Canadians -- especially those with low and middle incomes.

Telecoms expert Peter Nowak has been through the numbers in detail, revealing how the poorest 20 per cent of Canadian households spend a shocking 8.4 per cent of their income on communications, and the rest of us still spend far more then we should.

This is why independent ISPs have such a crucial role to play -- they often offer much more affordable access than the big companies.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out affordable Internet providers available in your area through our handy 'Make the Switch' guide which breaks down the Indie ISPs available in each province or territory.

Be sure to also call on the government to rein in Big Telecom Gatekeepers at: https://openmedia.ca/gatekeepers

It seems like every other day there's another story about Big Telecom holding back Canadians and stifling our economy. Let's not put up with this anymore.

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