OTTAWA, May 5, 2015 /CNW/ - The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced measures to ensure that Canadians benefit from sustainable competition among wireless service providers, as well as continued investments in high-quality networks. In particular, the CRTC will regulate certain wholesale rates that Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus charge other Canadian wireless companies.
To provide mobile wireless services to their customers, companies enter into a wide variety of wholesale arrangements. The rates, terms and conditions under which wireless companies, in particular smaller carriers, are able to obtain wholesale services are critical to their ability to offer competitive retail services.
The CRTC has found that there is an insufficient level of competition among the national wireless companies – Bell, Rogers and Telus – in the provision of wholesale roaming services. These companies can maintain rates and impose terms and conditions that would not prevail in a competitive market. Other Canadian wireless companies need to obtain these services under reasonable rates, terms and conditions in order to offer comparable broad or national wireless coverage to their own customers.
As such, the CRTC will regulate the rates that Bell, Rogers and Telus charge other companies for wholesale wireless roaming services. The CRTC has set interim rates for these services effective today, and is requiring the three companies to file final proposed rates by November 4, 2015.
These regulated wholesale rates will facilitate sustainable competition in the wireless market that will provide benefits to Canadians, such as reasonable prices and innovative services. They will also ensure that the wireless carriers continue to invest in high-quality networks.
In June 2014, Parliament amended the Telecommunications Act to cap wholesale wireless roaming rates in Canada, while the CRTC conducted its public consultation. In light of today's decision, the CRTC recommends that Governor in Council repeal this section of the legislation to allow the return to market forces for the provision of all other wholesale roaming services as soon as possible.
The CRTC is also taking action to reduce barriers, such as removing certain restrictions in wholesale roaming agreements, faced by mobile virtual network operators to give them more flexibility in their commercial negotiations with wireless companies. These operators can play a role in increasing choice and value for Canadians in the marketplace.
Finally, the CRTC will use its current processes to deal with issues related to the tower and site-sharing arrangements between wireless carriers. Tower and site-sharing agreements enable wireless companies to install their own equipment on another carrier's tower or site and deploy their networks in a cost-effective and efficient manner. These agreements also minimize the number of towers in Canadian communities.
Today's decision follows a public consultation, which included a public hearing that was held from September 29 to October 3, 2014.
- The CRTC has found that, under current market conditions, competition in the wireless market is likely not sustainable.
- The CRTC will regulate the rates of the national wireless companies, Bell, Rogers and Telus for wholesale roaming services they provide to other carriers.
- In light of the measures the CRTC is taking, it is recommending that the Government repeal the legislated roaming caps that remain in place.
- The CRTC is taking action to reduce certain barriers faced by mobile virtual network operators.
- The CRTC's current processes are sufficient to address tower and site-sharing issues related to the rates, terms, and conditions of agreements.
- The CRTC is fostering sustainable competition, innovation and investment in the wireless services market so Canadians can have access to increased choice.
"With more than 28 million subscribers, the wireless sector is of tremendous importance to Canada's economy. Innovation that leverages the use of wireless networks now forms part of our daily life and the important role of wireless technology increases each and every day. With microcomputers that fit in our palm, pocket or purses, we can do our banking, check up on our kids or elderly parents, apply for jobs, register for Government services or stay in contact with our friends, co-workers or clients. The measures that we are putting in place today in the wireless market will ensure that Canadians continue to have more choice as well as innovative high-quality services."
Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC
Technical Glossary - Wholesale Wireless Decision
Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-177 - Regulatory framework for wholesale mobile wireless services
Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2014-76: Review of wholesale mobile wireless services
This document is available in alternative format upon request.
SOURCE Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
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