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CRTC Ruling Slams Door on New Affordable Wireless Options: OpenMedia

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The CRTC issued an important ruling today. It’s official: the Big 3 can continue to block Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) from setting up in Canada. OpenMedia commented after the ruling went up on the CRTC’s website.

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The Commission denies a request from the Canadian Network Operators Consortium Inc. to review and vary certain determinations made in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2015-177. In that decision, the Commission determined, among other things, that it would not be appropriate to mandate wholesale mobile virtual network operator access services, and that it would generally rely on market forces to enable a competitive market to develop for these services. The Commission also determined that it would not mandate general wholesale tariffs for tower and site sharing services at that time, and that it would instead rely on its existing statutory powers to address issues related to the rates, terms, and conditions for such services.

This brings to an end the possible competition big telcos faced from MVNOs. The Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC) requested fair access for MVNOs, and the initiative was supported by OpenMedia as well. By the way, Canada wouldn’t be the first country to embrace MVNOs: the UK has done it, and as a result, customers pay far lower prices.

OpenMedia sees the decision as bad news in light of Wind’s acquisition by Shaw. “Canadians will soon have no affordable alternatives,” they say.

What’s more concerning, though, is the future of MVNO operators like Sugar Mobile, which offers services for a fraction of what Big 3 customers pay. Such players would be the truly independent, affordable alternatives Canadians could turn to.

But since Rogers was able to find the legal ground to shutter the business model — the carrier says the roaming deal with Ice Wireless, Sugar Mobile’s parent company, has been violated — Canadians will be forced to turn their attention to the already-established players.

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