Eastlink wireless expansion, upgrades on hold because of regulatory uncertainty

Eastlink wireless expansion, upgrades on hold because of regulatory uncertainty
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GATINEAU, Que. — The head of Atlantic Canada’s largest independent phone and cable company says it has put on hold all upgrades and expansions of its wireless networks because of uncertainty about what prices it will be able to charge in future.

Eastlink president Lee Bragg told a CRTC hearing today that his family-owned, private business can’t take the chance of investing in capital improvements when there’s a danger that its future rates will be too low to cover its costs and repay its debt.

Executives from Canada’s largest national and regional wireless companies have been united in rejecting a CRTC proposal to require Bell, Rogers and Telus to carry traffic for smaller competitors without their own networks.

Telus chief executive Darren Entwistle told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on Thursday that it could cut spending $1 billion over five years if it mandates mobile virtual network operators.

Likewise, Bragg says Eastlink has already cut $60 million from its 2020 capital budget and laid off an undisclosed number of people after the CRTC decided last year to cut what the wholesale rates for internet and phone land lines.

Eastlink provides internet, television, home phone and mobile services — primarily in the Atlantic provinces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:QBR.B, TSX:T, TSX:SJR.B)

The Canadian Press

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