Montréal, June 2, 2021 - The CRTC is sanctioning Bell yet again and forcing it to end its latest stratagems to maintain its historical monopoly in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. In two decisions released yesterday, the federal regulator ordered Câblevision, a Bell subsidiary, to finish upgrading its routers at its own expense, and refused its application to discontinue its 50 Mbps service. These decisions are the latest in a series of setbacks Bell has suffered in its attempts to prevent Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents from being well served by Videotron and to keep rates as high as possible by stifling potential competition.
Câblevision was demanding that Videotron pay for Cablevision’s equipment upgrades and router capacity increases, which are needed to meet growing customer demand in the region. The CRTC’s decision is not open to interpretation: Câblevision has been directed to perform the work promptly, at its own expense.
Depriving residents of service to block Videotron
In another last-ditch attempt to restrict Videotron’s local services, Câblevision announced in September 2020 that it intended to discontinue its 50 Mbps Internet access plan. This would leave residents to choose between 15 Mbps, which is too slow to support Helix service, and 125 Mbps, which costs twice as much. Once again, the CRTC saw through Câblevision’s ruse and denied its application, which “could considerably limit consumer choice.”
In addition to being anti-competitive, Cablevision’s ploy would have deprived local residents of one of the most popular plans on the market, thus penalizing all consumers. Clearly, Bell and Câblevision’s sole objective is to keep the Abitibi-Témiscamingue market under their yoke, even at the cost of depriving consumers of popular services.
“We will continue defending the public interest against Bell’s monopolistic designs,” says Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor. “Abitibi-Témiscamingue deserves better than Bell’s decades-long contempt. Our arrival in the region has signalled a sea change: Videotron is connecting more and more local residents and offering them more. Thanks to us, Abitibi-Témiscamingue now has access to the best in telecommunications, at the best price, with the best service.”
Bell’s latest attempts to obstruct competition are consistent with its longstanding efforts to prevent any new player from entering the market. Bell had already been slapped down by the CRTC in December 2019, when the federal regulator directed Câblevision to offer Third Party Internet Access (TPIA) service to any competitor with a genuine interest in the service.
Videotron, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is an integrated communications company engaged in television, entertainment, Internet access, wireline telephone and mobile telephone services. Videotron is a leader in new technologies with its Helix home entertainment and management platform. As of December 31, 2020, Videotron was serving 1,475,600 cable television customers and 469,000 subscribers to its Club illico video streaming service. Videotron is also the Québec leader in highspeed Internet access, with 1,796,800 subscribers as of December 31, 2020. As of the same date, Videotron had 1,481,100 subscriber connections to its mobile telephone service and was providing wireline telephone service to 924,700 Québec households and organizations.
Public Relations Advisor, Corporate Affairs