The CRTC has denied an application to stay an earlier decision that opened local competition in the territories' of 30 small telcos across Ontario and Quebec. The application, submitted by two groups representing independent telcos—the Association des compagnies de téléphone du Québec (ACTQ) and the Ontario Telecommunications Association (OTA)—asked the commission to stay portions of its “obligation to serve” decision issued last May, which required the independents to help pay for the implementation of local competition in their service areas. The groups asked the commission to stay the decision while they awaited a response from the federal government on a petition to cabinet to force incoming competitors to pay for the costs of the implemention. In a split-decision announced Friday, the CRTC denied the groups’ stay request and said the small telcos would not suffer “irreparable harm” if the plan to implement local competition went ahead in July, as originally scheduled. The commission rejected the groups’ argument that the small telcos would suffer financially from the decision, even in the event that it is reversed by the federal government. The federal Conservative government has until November to respond to the groups’ appeal to cabinet. In a dissenting opinion, commissioner Suzanne Lamarre said the independent telcos could suffer irreparable harm in some cases if forced to pay for some of the costs of the implementation.