BCE is seeking to appeal a regulatory decision that will allow independent companies to sell internet services to customers using its fiber optic network in Ontario and Quebec, arguing it risks suffering irreparable harm.

Bell Canada’s parent company filed documents with the Federal Court of Appeal on Thursday evening seeking leave to appeal the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) temporary decision and a stay of the decision pending the outcome of the legal process.

“The decision will have significant consequences for Canadians’ access to high-speed internet beyond the interim period during which it is in effect,” the company argued in its documents.

The CRTC announced on November 6 that it would force major telephone companies, including Bell and Telus, to provide their competitors with access to their fiber optic networks to the home within six months.

The regulator estimated that the timetable would allow companies to prepare their networks and develop information technologies and billing systems.

The regulator indicated that its decision was in line with the directive given to it earlier this year by the Minister of Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, to strengthen consumer rights.

It’s a partial decision as part of a broader review launched by the CRTC in March into the rates that smaller competitors pay large telecommunications companies to access their networks.

This review, which could potentially determine whether the CRTC’s direction will be made permanent and applied to other provinces, is continuing. The next public hearing is set for February 12.

The CRTC also set interim rates that smaller competitors will pay to access fiber optic networks.

In court papers, Bell called its fiber optic service a “flagship” internet offering for homes and businesses, which offers speeds at least twice as fast as cable internet. The company stressed that the technology was “extremely expensive,” spending about $4 billion on it annually over the past decade.

The service “is a distinguishing factor for Bell and is crucial to Bell’s competitive position in the marketplace,” she wrote, arguing that the CRTC’s decision “would harm Bell’s competitiveness and its multi-billion investment dollars in network infrastructure.”

Hours after the CRTC announced its decision last week, Bell announced it would cut its network investment plans by more than $1 billion in 2024-25, including a minimum of $500 million next year . Bell said this was in addition to the fact that it had already reduced its spending plans for 2023 by $100 million in anticipation of the CRTC’s decision.

“This capital would otherwise be available for projects that would benefit Bell’s competitive positioning and revenues,” the company said.

Bell noted that the CRTC’s decision did not apply to all operators building networks — cable companies such as Rogers Communications are not affected — and that the regional focus disproportionately targeted areas where only Bell has built its fiber optic network.

“If the decision is not stayed and is ultimately overturned by this court, then Bell will suffer irreparable harm due to loss of customers and revenue,” the company continued.

Bell argued that the regulator erred in law when making its decision because it did not use the correct test to reach its conclusion nor did it inform the stakeholders of the test he would use.

The CRTC declined to comment on the matter, citing the fact that the matter was before the courts.