Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bell Canada Appeals Regulatory Decision

Bell Canada is asking the nation's federal government to confirm that investment in next-generation communications networks should be encouraged as a matter of policy by overturning a decision and companion order by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Specifically, Bell Canada argues that a regulatory order issued in December (Telecom Decision 2008-117 and companion order Telecom Order 2009-111) threatens to slow and even eliminate such network investments in many communities by forcing telecommunications companies to provide competitors with regulated access to their newly constructed next-generation networks, such as the high-speed Fibre to the node (FTTN) being rolled out by Bell and other carriers.

"As in any other competitive industry in Canada, we should be able to choose who distributes our services and how, be it wholesale, retail, direct or any other creative form of distribution channel," said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell. "The alternative of regulated access will have significant implications for our network and other investments going forward. Despite current economic conditions, BCE has committed to investing more than $2.5 billion in the Canadian economy in 2009 alone."

"By regulating who can sell our next-generation network services and how, the CRTC decision alters the financial case for the $700 million we are investing in accelerating the deployment of our next-generation fibre over the next three years and puts further investment at risk," added Kevin Crull, President, Bell Residential Services. "If this decision stands, we will have to revise the pace, extent and location of our network roll-out, re-evaluating all our deployment plans in locales outside of Montreal and Toronto, where fibre rollouts are complete."

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