We are used to seeing how big corporations try to stop or stifle competition or how they want to ensure all news we see has a positive view of their company. Not so often do we see such concerted attempts to control what Canadians can do with their internet or see on their news channels.
Then CRTC published regulations back in 2015 that would allow smaller ISPs to access high speed fibre networks, Bell cried foul. Once they realized the Liberals won the election with Justin Trudeau, they filed a complaint saying that offering competitors access to their network would prevent investment. Just before announcing a billion dollar investment in their network.
Allowing access to a network is called local loop unbundling and essentially means a small city ISP can lease connections and network bandwidth and resell it to their own customers. CTRC wanted to increase competition in order to control pricing while Bell wanted to restrict it.
Part of the thinking was the Communications Monitoring Report at the time said that just 66% of lower income Canadians had access to cell phones and only 59% had access to broadband services. That’s opposed to 96% and 98% for higher income Canadians. Opening up super fast networks was seen as a way to equalize those two very disparate numbers.
If being anti-competitive wasn’t enough, how about when Bell tried to control what CTV viewers were told on the news? When CRTC regulated channel unbundling, another decision Bell took issue with, they told CTV to not air interviews with CRTC chairman Jean Pierre Blais. Fortunately, journalists within CTV blew the whistle and Bell was outed.
This isn’t the only time Bell has spent time looking backwards rather than forwards. They also called for a block on over-the-air U.S. television channels in Canada. They tried to exempt their own video services from a ban on zero rating. They also refused to publish transparency reports for law enforcement data requests.
This is indicative of a sickness at the heart of Bell.
A business needs to look forward and react to societal changes positively if it wants to survive. It needs to identify opportunities and exploit them to make a profit. What a business cannot afford to do is keep looking backwards and trying to force society to go back to how things were.
There’s one law governing progress. Despite small steps backwards, the overall trend is always forward. Any company that goes against the will of the people in a world with many alternatives would do well to remember that.