1674360814 Telecommunications Prices are high thats clear

Telecommunications | “Prices are high, that’s clear”

New CRTC chair Vicky Eatrides reviews controversial May 2021 decision on wholesale internet tariffs

Posted at 5:00 am


Barely in office, the new President of the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Vicky Eatrides, is not beating around the bush: the most controversial decision by her predecessor Ian Scott, which largely reversed the decline in wholesale prices online in May 2021 , will be revised.

“It is clear to the internet that our policies are not having the desired effect on prices,” Ms Eatrides, who has been in office since January 5, said in an interview with La Presse. We are reviewing the policy and will come back to it soon. »

Telecommunications Prices are high thats clear


Vicky Eatrides, new President of the CRTC

International comparisons don’t lie, and the CRTC President takes note: Canada ranks in the top three countries with the highest internet and mobile costs in the world year after year, along with Japan and the United States. The May 2021 decision hit independent ISPs hard, of which at least three of the largest, EBOX, VMedia and Distributel, have since been acquired by Bell and Videotron.

Negotiations followed

If the observation of the high prices for the Internet is clear, the WLAN requires a little more analysis, estimates Ms Eatrides. Last October, the CRTC forced the major providers into negotiations to allow smaller companies, the “Mobile Virtual Network Operators,” access to their networks. The federal agency has not set pricing for this access, but has made it clear that it wants more competition.

“We will ask for updates on the negotiations,” specifies the President. We will continue to ask questions. We will see. »

A lawyer by training, originally from Ottawa and bilingual – the interview was conducted in French – Vicky Eatrides began her career in 2000 at the law firm Stikeman Elliott. She then worked for the Competition Bureau for 14 years, becoming Assistant Deputy Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in 2019.

“I’ve spent half my career at the competition office,” she says.

I enjoy working in areas where I can promote competition and work for results for Canadians, such as lower prices.

Vicky Eatrides, new President of the CRTC

search for balance

Guided by conservatives and then liberals, since at least 2007 the CRTC has attempted to navigate between two poles: deregulation, designed to increase profits and encourage investment, and competition, designed to lower prices for consumers. Given her professional background, do we have to assume that Ms. Eatrides will favor the second trend?

His answer is not categorical. “The CRTC is an administrative court. We need a balance between competition and reinvestment […] This is a pivotal moment in the history of the CRTC, we are in a period of transformation.

I very much look forward to working with my Commission colleagues and the organization to advance competition, accessibility and Canadian culture.

Vicky Eatrides, new President of the CRTC

It is rather unusual for an administrative body like the CRTC to make the headlines on a regular basis. His future responsibilities under Bills C-11 and C-18, which essentially aim to regulate digital platforms and enforce revenue sharing with the Canadian media, should increase his visibility. Does the CRTC have the means and skills to fulfill its ambitions? After all, ex-President Ian Scott himself pointed out “enough misjudgments” by his own panel to justify his May 2019 decision.

“We are almost 550 employees,” replies Ms. Eatrides. We’ll see if we need resources, tools. If we need it, I will ask for it. »

Historically, the principle of alternating Anglophones and Francophones at the top of the CRTC has been generally respected. In late December, the Bloc Québécois condemned the appointment of Ms Eatrides, who is not of “French-speaking origin”, following the five-year tenure of Ian Scott, a monolingual Anglophone.

The main prospect doesn’t seem too offended. “I recognize that francophone and anglophone cultures are different. Markets are different, preferences are different. I look forward to working with colleagues and stakeholders in support of our cultural sector. »

Her first visit outside of Ottawa will be in Quebec “in the coming weeks,” she announced.

Learn more

  • 77.3 million Projected spend for the CRTC for FY 2022-23, up 11% from 2019-20. The organization also has a turnover of 60.1 million.

    Departmental plan for the CRTC 2022-2023

    150 Number of CRTC public decisions in 2022