Last month, I wrote about the battle over the future of broadband in Canada with Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson writing to the federal cabinet to support a Bell appeal to overturn a CRTC decision designed to foster increased competition for fast fibre Internet services. On the CRTC ruling, I noted that:
The upshot of the ruling was that companies such as Bell would be required to share their infrastructure with other carriers on a wholesale basis. The companies would enjoy a profit on those wholesale connections, but the increased competition would facilitate better services, pricing, and consumer choice. Indeed, the policy approach is similar to the one used for slower DSL broadband connections that has been instrumental in creating a small but active independent ISP community that serves hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
Bell marshalled opposition to the CRTC decision, including letters from Tory and Watson. By contrast, the City of Calgary and its mayor, Naheed Nenshi, filed a lengthy submission supporting the CRTC approach.
It turns out that the Toronto and Ottawa filings were not submitted on behalf of the cities, but rather reflect personal letters from the mayors of those cities. In Toronto, the letter raised the ire of city council, which yesterday debated a motion introduced by Councillor Mike Layton to express support for a more competitive approach and the CRTC decision. The motion stated:
1. City Council support competitive and affordable internet prices for its residents and support the CRTC decision of July, 2015 for large telecom companies to make their fibre-optic networks available to small competitors at wholesale prices.
2. City Council forward a copy of this decision to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
3. City Council request, similar to the City of Calgary, an opportunity to consult with the Minister relating to the Minister’s recommendation to the Governor-in-Council on Bell’s Petition against the CRTC decision.
The motion was passed 28-5, representing a significant rebuke to Mayor Tory, and making Toronto the second major Canadian city to have its council consider the issue and express support for the CRTC decision.