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Canada Sets Up Accessibility Council; Lowers Wholesale Broadband Rates

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The organisations responsible for enforcing the Accessible Canada Act have announced the establishment of the Council of Federal Accessibility Agencies. The Accessible Canada Act, which became law in June 2019, requires member organisations of the council to work collaboratively to refer federal accessibility complaints to the right organisation and to foster complementary policies and practices. The council is made up of chairs of the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile the CRTC has set final wholesale rates that it says will facilitate greater competition and promote innovative broadband services and affordable prices for consumers. The wholesale rates are paid by competitors who access the existing high-speed access networks of the large cable and telephone companies. In 2016, the CRTC set revised interim wholesale rates as those proposed by the service providers were not just and reasonable. The final rates are lower than the interim rates and retroactive to the date they were set in 2016. The monthly capacity rates are 15% to 43% lower than the interim rates. As for the access rates, they are 3% to 77% lower than the interim rates.

Operator Shaw Communications said though that “there will be long-term negative consequences to Canadians from the CRTC’s decision to dramatically reduce federally regulated wholesale broadband prices charged to third party internet providers. While the CRTC appears to be trying to use the reseller market as a primary source of broadband competition, it is ignoring the fact that the resale model relies on the investments of facilities-based providers like Shaw to create robust, fast and reliable networks for the future,” CEO Brad Shaw said. “In light of the decision, we are reviewing our future plans for capital expenditure and network deployment.”

The CRTC has also published a code of conduct for internet service providers (ISPs). The internet code will come into effect on 31 January 2020 and will provide Canadians with additional safeguards against unexpectedly high bills and help them resolve disputes with their ISP. See (council), (wholesale) and (code), and Shaw statement here.

The organisations responsible for enforcing the Accessible Canada Act have announced the establishment of the Council of Federal Accessibility Agencies.

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