Ottawa – Canadian cellphone customers are the winners after a decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today to regulate the rates charged by Bell, TELUS and Rogers to smaller wireless providers to roam on their networks, said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).
The CRTC’s decision results from a recent public hearing on rules governing “wholesale” arrangements – how large wireless service providers must deal with smaller competitors in terms of roaming arrangements, tower-sharing, and other measures to promote competition in Canada’s wireless market.
In today’s decision, the CRTC explicitly set interim rates for roaming and conditions of access for competitors to the networks of the “Big Three” wireless companies (Bell, Rogers and TELUS). The CRTC said these companies have the ability and incentive to act anti-competitively in their provision of a number of essential wholesale “network access services” to other smaller wireless providers, which ultimately affects retail customers and competition overall. The CRTC will hold another hearing to set final rates this fall.
“Mobile wireless services constitute the largest component of Canadians’ spending on telecommunications services,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel for PIAC. “The interim rate set for roaming access may still be too high; however, we believe that the costs-based rate which the CRTC expects to be in place later this fall will finally allow smaller competitors offer alternatives to the Big Three.”
“After years of debate over what most Canadians already know about the state of competition in the wireless market, this is a long-overdue recognition that competition in the Canadian wireless market is lacking”, said Jean-François Léger, Counsel to PIAC. “Today’s decision is therefore a positive step forward in the pursuit of more wireless competition in Canada.”
PIAC participated in the CRTC review of wholesale mobile wireless services, in a coalition with other organizations named the Groups for the Public Interest. The Groups also included the:
- Consumers’ Association of Canada;
- Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of British Columbia; and
- National Pensioners Federation.
For more information:
General Counsel and Executive Director
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
(613) 447-8125 (cell)
Counsel to PIAC-CAC
(613) 562-4002 x29