Cybera’s response to CRTC investigation on disaggregated wholesale access

On June 11, 2020, the CRTC issued a Call for comments – Appropriate network configuration for disaggregated wholesale high-speed access services. Their goal was to address a number of outstanding issues related to the Commission’s earlier decision (2015-326) to move Canada’s wholesale high speed access regime from a disaggregated to an aggregated model. 

Under the previous, aggregated model, competitors were required to connect at a single Point of Interconnection in order to access both the access portion (i.e. the portion to-the-home) and transport portion of the incumbent’s network, incurring tariffed charges and Capacity Based Billing charges. Under the new disaggregated model, created in 2016, wholesale internet providers were only allowed to connect to the access portion of the incumbents’ networks, therefore requiring that they build or lease their own transport infrastructure beyond that point. 

The current CRTC proceeding was launched after wholesale providers expressed concern that the new regime required them to build far too much of their own infrastructure, would would be economically unviable. The CRTC is now looking at responses from interveners on policy changes that could mitigate these harms. 

As Cybera has commented before, the regulatory regime for wholesale internet in Canada has experienced significant disruption over the past year, which has resulted in widespread uncertainty among wholesale internet providers. Cybera also believes that wholesale providers are an important part of fostering affordability and competition in our telecommunications market. 

Because of this, Cybera recommended the following steps to the Commission to ensure affordable, high quality internet services for Canadians: 

  • The Commission should significantly soften the language of its high speed access framework. This would allow for less disaggregation in geographic areas where transport facilities are less competitive. 
  • Implement disaggregation on a “case-by-case” basis, rather than as a blanket directive. This would result in a more gradual and measured move to disaggregate wholesale high speed access services, and eliminate prohibitive interconnection costs (where they are appropriate to avoid), as well as service gaps. 
  • Uphold the CRTC 2019-976 decision to lower wholesale rates. Doing so would allow wholesale ISPs to remain competitive while other proceedings, such as the current one, are resolved. 

You can read Cybera’s full submission here: