CRTC Further Probes Mobile TV Apps from Rogers, Bell and Videotron

Bell, Rogers, and Videotron are on the hot seat and will face tough questions regarding the way they charge for live and on-demand television on mobile apps. Canada’s telecom regulator is “taking this seriously” and has decided to review the mobile TV apps offered by the aforementioned telcos, reports the Globe and Mail.

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At issue is the telcos’ $5 fee for streaming up to 10 hours of video content per month on mobile devices from select Canadian TV stations with no impact on their wireless data caps. At first glance, everything seems to be fine, but not when compared to 10 hours of video content streaming using Netflix, for example, in which case users may incur significant fees for exceeding their monthly data caps.

In other words, the CRTC is investigating whether Bell, Rogers, and Videotron are prioritizing their own content. To get to the core of the issue, the regulator has sent a list of up to 20 questions to each company, requesting details such as the number of subscribers, data usage, and content delivery.

While Videotron declined to comment, Bell and Rogers sent the following statement to the newspaper:

“Bell Mobile TV is a next-generation wireless service that’s increasingly popular with Canadian consumers, and it operates in compliance with all regulatory rules,” BCE spokesman Mark Langton said Monday, noting that the service had 1.5 million subscribers as of the second quarter of 2014. “We’re concerned that applications like this only serve to stifle mobile innovation.”

Jennifer Kett, a spokeswoman for Rogers, said mobile television is “still in early days in Canada,” and, “the $5 [Rogers Anyplace] TV offer was designed to reflect that and encourage Canadians to use their mobile devices to consume more video content.” Plus, she said, it offers more access to Canadian content than customers would otherwise get with services like Netflix.

The issue was highlighted last year in a complaint submitted to the CRTC by Benjamin Klass, a University of Manitoba student who pointed to Bell’s suspect policy, which could be in violation of the Telecom Act. Since then, the regulator has received other complaints as well over Rogers and Videotron apps.