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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's major internet service providers must lower the wholesale rates they charge smaller rivals for access to their networks, the country's telecom regulator said on Thursday, saying it would protect consumer choice.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it has set lower interim rates that established providers - including BCE Inc, Rogers Communications Inc and Telus Corp - can charge to resellers, calling some of the companies' own proposals "not just and reasonable."
"Canadians' access to a choice of broadband internet services would have been at stake had we not revised these rates," CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement.
Rogers said it was disappointed by the setting of what it called arbitrary rates. BCE, Telus and Shaw declined to comment.
The providers were told in 2010 that they must allow smaller internet providers access to their high-speed fiber networks at the same speed they offer to their own customers, at cost plus a 10 percent markup.
In March the regulator asked for updated rate proposals since cost components had shifted and should have resulted in an overall reduction in rates.
Of the rate proposals received, only SaskTel's was approved.
The other impacted companies are Cogeco Inc, Manitoba Telecom Services Inc, Shaw Communications Inc and Quebecor Inc's Videotron.
The enforced rates vary by provider, and will be finalized at a later date following further study and consultation.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler