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CRTC Announces Ban on Exclusivity Clauses in Roaming Agreements, Targets Rogers

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The CRTC has just announced it will ban exclusivity agreements between wireless providers when it comes to wholesale domestic roaming rates, part of its ongoing “efforts to promote fair and sustainable competition in wireless services for Canadians.”

A formal public proceeding was held last December to investigate if incumbent players were offering ‘unjustly discriminatory roaming rates, terms and conditions’ to newer wireless entrants.

The investigation concluded Rogers was guilty of the following:

  • Imposing exclusivity clauses in roaming agreements that prohibited smaller service providers from using networks from any other carrier.
  • Charging some new Canadian service providers significantly higher roaming rates compared to rates for other wireless service providers.

The CRTC says a public hearing will be held on September 29, 2014 to investigate the competitive sate of the wireless market. Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC Chairman, had this to say:

“Competition in the wireless industry benefits society and the economy by providing innovative communications services at reasonable prices. But that is only the case when true and sustainable competition is at play. Today’s decision will help promote fairness and a better consumer experience with wireless for Canadians.”

Domestic wholesale roaming rates are key for a fourth wireless player to emerge, part of the federal government’s ongoing goal to increase wireless competition.

Earlier this week Industry Canada set out rules for the AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction, set for early 2015, which also will include a set-aside chunk for newer entrants.

 

 

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  • Al

    I want the end result of getting Canada-wide coverage from other carriers (with better prices) as much as everyone else. But I’m confused as to how a telecom, like Rogers, can be forced to offer their service to ANY company, let alone at a given price.

    In simple terms, if I started my own telecom business and I built a tower for my customers to use, and then Rogers and Bell said, “we want to use your tower for our customers”, I’d be inclined to say, “Hell no… Build your own tower.”

    So I’m curious as to what gives the government the right to force a company to do business with another company, as well as essentially dictate what price must be charged.

    As a consumer looking for better pricing, I want to see this happen. But I just don’t understand how it could in a non-communist country (although I do consider the CRTC to be a communist-centric organization).

  • Nelson

    As I gather from this article, and using your example, the issue is if you are renting out your tower for other telecoms, that it should be at the same rent rate.

    Also, I’m guessing the government can force a telecom company to do business with other companies by asking them nicely. And if they don’t they can not allow them to bid on future spectrum. Like when Telus was trying to buy Mobilicity.

  • Al

    Yea, I can see that… If you are renting to one or more at a certain rate, you can’t overcharge others… which I believe is a standard law concerning the sale of individual consumer items. However, the way around that is pricing by volume. You typically give a better rate to your customers that buy at a higher volume. I can see that getting “muddy”.

    Is the spectrum sold, leased, or sold with stipulations? I don’t know if this is valid (and I can’t be bothered looking into it), but perhaps the telcom companies are actually required to allow other companies to use their towers as a stipulation of purchasing the spectrums? In which case, they would be playing in the government’s sandbox.

    … just thinking out loud.

  • Euffie

    The goal for the government is to get us the consumer a fair value. You are correct that this situation is getting “muddy”, but if the government is leaving them alone, companies like the big three will monopolize the market – provide a little services and charge at a high price. Ultimately it would be us, the consumers take on all the cost. That’s why these policy makers are clamping down the big three’s power to make telecom services more competitive – which yields lower cost to us! yuppies!

    What CRTC here just did is to open the door for the government to have a reason to control the roaming rates for small companies. Yes, you may say that these small companies can build their own towers, but with the big three already taken the prime locations for towers, building new towers would have to be at a sub-prime location, which implies more cost and effort. That’s why Wind and Moblicity reception is always bad and Videotron is hesitant rolling out their services across Canada….

  • FamiGami

    So wrong. The govt isn’t forcing anyone to do business with anyone. The condition informing spectrum is that this spectrum must be available to others as well. There’s nothing communist about this – it’s the terms of business. What the government is saying here is that Rogers can’t charge Wind more than it does Bell for using that spectrum when customers are roaming heir network. Again, nothing communist about that. There’s no such thing as “volume” about spectrum. While roaming you are either using it or you’re not. You aren’t taking away from another customer when you talk on the phone or use data.

  • Al

    Although I can see spectrum as being one factor, it doesn’t address the issue of corporate-owned equipment and the costs to operate that equipment. Companies like Bell and Rogers build their own towers, and then smaller companies come along and say, “Thanks, I’m going to use your towers so that I don’t have to build my own.” That’s doesn’t sound right to me. That’s like a stranger coming over to your house and saying, “I’m going to sit on your porch and drink your Kool-Aid just because I feel like it.”

  • FamiGami

    That’s incorrect. Companies go to Bell and Rogers and say “You’ve built so many towers that there is no logistical possibility for us to build our own. We could build them anyway but you and we would suffer due to interference and quality loss”. It is like my neighbor coming over and asking “Can we drink you Kool-Aid? You bought the entire store’s supply of every liquid imaginable”.

  • Al

    I restrained myself for ragging on you for the incorrect assumptions you made in your previous post, but now I just have to ask… Do you just make stuff up just for fun, or do you make stuff up and then believe it to be true?

    “no logistical possibility”? … Seriously?! You can still a cell tower most anywhere and on top of most anything.

    “Interference and quality loss”? … Cell towers don’t interfere with each other in any way.

    Just do me a favour and don’t comment on any of my discussions. I don’t suffer fools gladly.

  • FamiGami

    I might think I make this up, but what you believe to be fiction is fact. At least I don’t ignore facts or the truth. You must love your utopic bubble of ignorance.

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