CRTC announce investigation into network roaming rates

by Andrew Roach on December 17, 2013

As the spectrum auction draws nearer, many people are already speculating whether new entrants to the domestic market will stand any chance against the established networks who already dominate coverage nationwide.

Well, the underdog received a massive boost recently as the CRTC revealed that they were planning to review the prices that network providers charge rivals for accessing their networks.

Over the past few years, the roaming rates set by the Big Three networks of Rogers, Bell and Telus have continued to increase making it much more difficult for new entrants to establish themselves as a national network.

The review comes as no surprise as just one of the successful new entrants from the last auction– WIND Mobile – is set to compete for more coverage in January’s affair.

Under their new investigation, the CRTC will be looking much more loosely at how the larger players negotiate with smaller networks as the minnows look to try and extend their own business beyond their coverage area.

If their findings do discover that the Big Three are continuing to charge excessive fees, the CRTC revealed that they are prepared to regulate the costs to create a level playing field.

It comes after the CRTC monitored talks between larger and smaller networks over the past few months and found that the larger networks were forcing independent firms into a corner just to get access to a rival network.

When asked about the problem, the CRTC believed that action was needed to ensure that the national wireless industry remained competitive for current and new entrants. In a statement to the press, CRTC President Jean-Pierre Blais stated “We are concerned that some wireless companies may be making it unfairly difficult for Canadian providers that do not operate a national network to compete in the marketplace”.

Unsurprisingly, the move has been met positively by some of the smaller mobile operators in the country with WIND Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera stating that “serious anti-competitive behaviour from Bell, Rogers and Telus and intends to do something about it.”

In an expected move, Rogers denied the accusations stating that they had always formed deals which had been agreed upon by both parties. This was highlighted in a statement by Rogers spokesperson Jennifer Kett who told CBC: “All of our roaming agreements with domestic carriers are based on negotiated, mutually agreed upon rates.”

The CRTC’s investigation is set to go on through the first part of next year and could certainly see the divide between the established networks and new entrants closed tremendously in the domestic market.

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Written by: Andrew Roach www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube

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