TekSavvy seeks permission to appeal CRTC rates decision, CNOC asks for public support
News | 06/29/2021 7:06 pm EDT
TekSavvy Solutions Inc. is asking the Federal Court of Appeal for permission to appeal the CRTC’s May decision to revert rates for wholesale-based internet service providers to interim levels from 2016.
The filing, which is not yet available on the Federal Court of Appeal registry, was filed on Monday and obtained by The Wire Report.
In a notice of motion, TekSavvy wrote that the CRTC’s move to revert the wholesale internet rates to 2016 levels “breached TekSavvy’s legitimate expectation that the CRTC would conduct a full review and assessment of the rates based on costing inputs and costing methodologies of all interested parties, including TekSavvy.”
TekSavvy argued in the Monday filing that the CRTC’s reasoning for not conducting a “full review and assessment of the rates” in the May decision on the review and vary application, being “regulatory burden and insufficient evidence from the respondents – were unacceptable.”
TekSavvy also argued that the commission failed in its mandate under Section 27(5) of the Telecommunications Act, which mandates that the regulator set rates that are “just and reasonable” using “any method or technique that it considers appropriate.”
“The CRTC’s reversion to untested 2016 interim rates without engaging in a meaningful review of the rates did not constitute a method or technique,” TekSavvy wrote.
“This is especially problematic given that the CRTC found various errors leading it to have ‘substantial doubt’ regarding the correctness of the 2019 Order. A fulsome review was imperative to correct these errors.”
In the filing, TekSavvy also pointed to the alleged conduct of CRTC chair Ian Scott during the course of the wholesale rates review, claiming that Scott’s actions “raised a reasonable apprehension of bias.” Specifically, the company pointed to a December 2019 meeting between Scott and Mirko Bibic, who was then chief operating officer of BCE Inc. (and now CEO) in an Ottawa bar.
An affidavit in support of the filing includes an alleged photo of the two.
The meeting, TekSavvy wrote in the filing, “was contrary to the CRTC’s own protocols and guidelines on meetings with stakeholders, as well as the guidelines of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.”
“Chairperson Scott ought to have refused to attend these meetings or, at the very least,
he ought to have recused himself from the [review and vary] Applications and the Decision after the first of these meetings took place.”
If the court grants TekSavvy leave to appeal, the company will seek to have the May rates decision quashed, and the 2019 rates reinstated, or failing that, for the decision to be sent back to the CRTC for a ” comprehensive determination of the rates in accordance with this Court’s reasons, and before a differently-constituted panel precluding Chairperson Ian Scott’s involvement.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Competitive Network Operators of Canada (CNOC) put out a call asking Canadian customers to fight a recent decision by the CRTC to increase internet rates.
On Tuesday CNOC, which represents some of the companies that could stand to be most hurt by the regulator’s reversal of its wholesale internet access rates, launched an email campaign requesting that the federal government reinstate previously promised rates.
“In May of this year the CRTC cowed to big telecom company pressure to overturn its own 2019 decision to lower the rates large telephone and cable companies charge smaller competitors to lease their networks to provide more affordable and innovative service offerings and better customer service,” CNOC wrote in a press release.
“CNOC strongly denounced the ruling by CRTC, under the leadership of Chair Ian Scott who has admitted he personally does not believe that smaller service-based competitors can deliver competition for Canadian consumers,” CNOC wrote.
“If the government does not put the CRTC back in line with its own policy of promoting competition, affordability, and consumer interests, which is its prerogative, Canadians can expect to pay even more for less,” Geoff White, CNOC’s executive director, said in the release.
CNOC is asking Canadians to write to their MPs and sign its online petition, “I Want Affordable Internet”, asking the federal government to overturn the commission’s decision. The petition also has a built-in tool so customers can easily identify their MPs.
“For over a year, Canadians have relied more heavily on the internet to stay connected to work,
school, and their loved ones than ever before,” Matt Stein, CNOC chair, stated in the release.
According to CNOC, the CRTC’s decision to revert rates back to 2016 levels will increase internet rates across Canada and will allow larger companies to further hike up their fees.