After big win over Bell, what's next for Canada's telecom market?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

As wins go, this one was a doozy.

Following months of debate, all eyes were on Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains as he weighed whether or not to give Bell, and a tiny handful of other telecom behemoths, an effective monopoly over fibre Internet services in Canada.

In a landmark decision, Minister Bains upheld a key CRTC ruling that will ensure smaller, more affordable providers can offer fibre Internet services on a level playing field with the giant telcos.

It's difficult to understate just how big a win this is -- fibre is critically important for the future of Canada's Internet, offering speeds that are up to 50 times faster than average broadband connections right now. Fibre will, in short, revolutionize the Internet, opening the potential for a myriad of new uses in health care, education and cultural activities that are impossible with our current broadband speeds.

Nor did this big win come without a big fight -- almost 80,000 Canadians came together to sign petitions, write to elected officials, and work hard to ensure Bell didn't succeed in creating a monopoly over this vital service. Key public figures and institutions, including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Toronto's City Council, played a vital role in helping beat back Bell's intensive lobbying efforts.

Bains' decision was important for another reason too: it was his first big call as Canada's new Innovation Minister, and therefore was widely seen as a litmus test for the future direction of federal telecom policy. And there is certainly no shortage of big challenges facing the government and the CRTC right now.

Firstly, Bell, with its seemingly insatiable appetite to crush smaller competitors, has set its sights on gobbling up Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS). This is unsurprising as MTS is a big part of the reason why Manitobans pay so much less than most other Canadians for wireless Internet. The Competition Bureau will have a key role to play in assessing this deal, as will Innovation Canada which will need to approve any transfer of spectrum licenses from MTS to Bell. Canadians can send their comments to the Competition Bureau via their website.

Secondly, Bains' fibre Internet decision comes at a time when Canadians are already facing major challenges with affordability, as outlined in last month's column. When four in 10 low-income Canadians cannot afford home Internet because of Big Telecom's high prices, we clearly need a co-ordinated approach from the CRTC and the new government to get prices down.

Thirdly, many Canadians living outside the big cities find it next to impossible to obtain a quality, high-speed Internet service, regardless of the price. Although Minister Bains has promised to invest $500 million in rural Internet, much more will be needed to ensure we don't leave rural and northern Canadians behind.

Finally, between the failure of smaller providers, increased market concentration, and apparent lack of willingness by the government to stand up for net neutrality, there's a real danger that Canadians will be left with wireless services that are slower, more expensive, and more locked-down than anywhere else in the industrialized world. Again, Big Telecom is pushing us in the wrong direction, and Canadians deserve a government and CRTC willing to push back.

In short, there's no lack of major challenges facing the government and the CRTC right now. OpenMedia will be working for Canadians every step of the way. Keep in touch by following us at and at

David Christopher is communications manager with OpenMedia, which works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.