CRTC fined Bell $7.5 million over Vidéotron telephone pole dispute

The CRTC determined Bell violated the Telecommunications Act by denying permit applications to Vidéotron

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued $7.5 million in penalties against Bell Canada for three violations of the Telecommunications Act.

In a CRTC release, the commission said it set penalties for three violations at $2.5 million each. The CRTC found that Bell denied permit applications for Vidéotron, the company’s main competitor in Quebec, to access its telephone poles. This delayed Vidéotron’s network deployment, creating a competitive advantage for Bell Canada.

“It is vitally important that the market for telecommunications services be fair and competitive so that Canadians can enjoy a range of services from different providers,” said CRTC chairperson Ian Scott in the release.

“Today’s decision underscores this point and demonstrates that we will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to take action to promote compliance when a company’s actions violate these principles.”

In 2020, Vidéotron filed an application to the CRTC requesting it issue orders related to Bell’s processing and granting of access permits to its support structures like telephone poles. Vidéotron also launched a lawsuit against Bell over the telephone poles issue.

In April 2021, the CRTC determined Bell violated section 24 and subsection 25(1) and 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act, as well as breached its National Services Tariff and the Support Structure Licence Agreement with Vidéotron. Additionally, the CRTC ordered Bell to complete the “make-ready work required” at its own cost within 30 days. The commission noted in the decision that it felt it should levy monetary penalties against Bell and that it would hold a follow-up proceeding to determine what penalty, if any, was necessary.

This latest decision is a result of that follow-up consultation. The CRTC believes the penalties should “promote compliance” with the Telecommunications Act.

You can view the CRTC decision here.