Wireline Incumbents in the Telecommunication Industry

When one telecommunications company owns the majority of communication lines or structures within a particular location, that company is known as the Wireline Incumbent. This sort of monopoly gives Incumbents certain advantages over competitors. The CRTC has set out provisions detailing access relationships between Incumbents and competitors in order to support competition in various markets such as telephone, television and internet.

Known as wholesale telecommunication services, the services that the telecommunication companies provide to one another are essential to the development of the Canadian communication system. The provisions set out by the CRTC enable competitors to access certain facilities and network components to extend their networks and provide services to consumers. The sharing of these wholesale services contributes to the overall telecommunications system in a number of ways. For example, by optimizing the use of telecom and supporting structures such as poles and conduits.

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The CRTC has developed rules, policies and regulations to outline the relationship between incumbent carrier and the market at large. During the 1990’s and 2000’s, regulation focused largely on improving competition within the telephone services industry. As technology, services and consumer interest has changed, their focus has moved to improving competition for broadband services.

The CRTC believes that the most sustainable form of competition lies in promoting facilities-based competition, in which competitors use primarily their own facilities and networks such as the copper, coaxial and fiber connection that connects to buildings; the fiber-optic cables that connect communities and various parts within the data centers of the incumbent carriers. To achieve this, the incumbent carriers are required to avail their facilities that are essential for competitors to access the market. Generally, the facilities in reference are network components that cannot be duplicated by the competitors and would give the incumbents considerable ability to affect retail competition should they be allowed to deny access.

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