Internet - Our Role

The CRTC regulates the wholesale rates charged by large telephone and cable companies to competitors to access their networks in order to offer their services. The CRTC does not regulate retail rates charged by service providers to their retail customers.

Retail Internet rates, quality of service and business practices

The CRTC does not intervene in the rates, quality of service issues, or business practices of Internet service providers as they relate to retail customers. This is because there is enough competition in the market and Canadians have a choice and can shop around for service packages. However the CRTC does ensure that all Internet data is treated fairly and that no advantage or disadvantage is given to any content or content creator due to differential pricing practices. Learn more about differential pricing and net neutrality.

Wholesale Internet rates and quality of service

A wholesale customer is an Internet service provider who must use part of the large telephone and cable companies' networks in order to offer Internet and other services to its own retail customers. The CRTC regulates how the wholesale customer is billed, rates and quality of service issues for wholesale services. This, in turn, ensures that Canadians have access to a range of Internet service providers.

On August 15, 2019, the CRTC set final wholesale rates that will facilitate greater competition and promote innovative broadband services and affordable prices for consumers. Those rates are lower than the interim rates that were set in 2016. The CRTC is also working to implement a new regime that will enable competitors to access the large companies’ fibre facilities.

Two acceptable wholesale billing models

The CRTC has decided that there are two acceptable ways for large telephone and cable companies to charge independent service providers for the use of their networks: the flat-rate model, and the capacity-based model.

The flat-rate billing model

Historically telephone and cable companies have used the flat-rate billing model. Under this model, companies charge independent service providers a flat monthly fee per retail customer for access to the network. The independent service provider’s retail customers may then make unlimited use of the network.

Visual representation of the flat-rate billing model

The capacity-based billing model

The second wholesale billing model is the capacity-based model.

With this model, independent service providers pay a monthly fee per retail customer and pre-purchase the amount of network capacity that they expect to need to serve their retail customers.

If demand exceeds the capacity an independent service provider has purchased, the provider must manage its network capacity until it can buy more.

Visual representation of the capacity-based billing model

Closing the Broadband Gap

The CRTC established a universal service objective that Canadians – in rural and remote areas as well as in urban centres – have access to voice services and broadband Internet access services on fixed and mobile wireless networks.

The CRTC set new targets for these services:

To help service providers that do not meet the above targets and that would like to provide and/or improve their services in underserved areas, the CRTC has set up a fund of up to $750 million over a 5 year period.

More info on the fund

Internet Pricing and the CRTC’s Role – Did You Know?

The CRTC requires telephone and cable companies to sell access to their networks to independent Internet service providers (ISPs) at regulated wholesale prices.

The CRTC regulates rates, terms and conditions between the telephone/cable companies and the independent ISPs. See final rates for aggregated wholesale high-speed access services: 2019-288

The CRTC does not regulate retail consumer prices, except for retail Internet services offered by Northwestel in its terrestrially served communities. These rates are established by the service providers, and may be negotiated with consumers.

Visual representation of the relationship that exist between providers and consumers

Use our online tool to find service providers near you.

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