updated 01:00 pm EDT, Fri March 13, 2009
Bell threatens Can. gov't.
Bell may refuse to upgrade to next-generation networks if the Canadian government does not concede to demands, a statement from the company proposes. The country's telecommunications regulator, the CRTC, recently issued a ruling that would require the company to open up its next-generation networks to competitors. Bell is only one of two national Internet service providers in Canada however, and would likely gain no more than diminished profits if forced to cope with competition.
The company is currently in the process of upgrading its network with "fiber to the node" technology, which may significantly increase the speed of its Internet access. But by "regulating who can sell our next-generation network services and how," claims Bell Residential Services president Kevin Crull, "the CRTC decision alters the financial case for the $700 million we are investing in accelerating the deployment of our next-generation fibre over the next three years and puts further investment at risk."
The ISP further argues that the CRTC risks creating a "new urban digital divide," and harming the Canadian economy by instigating a slowdown. Critics of Bell charge that unless competitors are allowed to gain a foothold in the market through existing infrastructure, it may be impossible for them to afford the cost of building their own separate networks. More competition may also be necessary for customers looking for services without bandwidth caps or throttling.