Small Carriers Complain about “Unilateral” Provisions in Wholesale Roaming Contracts

by Istvan Fekete on July 29, 2015

Eastlink Wireless, Wind Mobile, and Videotron have filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), saying that the incumbent carriers are trying to set unilateral terms and conditions for wholesale roaming agreements, reports the Globe and Mail.

The complaint comes after a landmark ruling issued by the regulator two months ago that capped the wholesale roaming rate Rogers, Bell, and Telus charge smaller rivals, the aim of which was to boost competition in the Canadian mobile landscape.

The regulator plans to set the exact rates after a follow-up process scheduled for this fall to assess the carrier’s actual cost, and then add a markup.
While the wireless industry awaits the final ruling, the CRTC has set a maximum rate of no more than the highest amount incumbent players were charging for text, data, and voice services under government caps introduced last year.

However, smaller players claim incumbents “personalized” their contracts by including lengthy terms and conditions that should be subject to negotiation.

“Bell and Telus have essentially cut and pasted onerous, prenegotiation versions of their wholesale roaming agreements into their interim tariff pages, along with a confidential rate table,” the joint application filed in late June states, adding that “Rogers did not go quite as far” but it did also include terms and conditions “inconsistent with negotiated outcomes with the applicants.”

“We filed the application because we were concerned that the incumbents are attempting to insert terms and conditions in their tariffs that would negate the key benefits to consumers in the commission’s wholesale roaming decision,” Matthew MacLellan, president of Eastlink Wireless, a subsidiary of Bragg Communications Inc., said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.

In the filing with the CRTC, small carriers show concern over the “one-sided nature of these terms”, as it would undo years of negotiations and arbitration proceedings that resulted in their current arrangements with the incumbent players.

On the other hand, Rogers, Telus, and Bell filed separate replies on Monday challenging the claims small carriers have just submitted to the CRTC, and argued that such terms and conditions are necessary to clarify each party’s expectations and obligations under the roaming contract.

Wind Mobile, Videotron, and Eastlink plan to file a response on August 6.

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

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