Consortium of Small ISPs Appeal to CRTC to Run Wireless Networks

The Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC), a group of small Internet service providers (ISPs), want to offer their own wireless services by leasing existing networks from Rogers, TELUS and Bell.

The consortium—which consists of over 30 small ISPs nationwide such as Primus, Teksavvy and Distributel—are appealing a recent CRTC decision on wholesale wireless from May, which the regulator decided would not mandate access to incumbent networks.

Smaller companies want access to established Big 3 networks to re-sell wireless services and act as mobile virtual network operators (MVNO). However, Rogers, TELUS and Bell argue these smaller companies would be using their expensive infrastructure and not investing their own money to build their own.

The CNOC’s appeal, according to The Canadian Press “wants the CRTC to mandate that the wireless connection to the consumer is shared but each company has to invest in its own communications backbone.”

MVNOs are popular in the U.S., as smaller companies are able to provide cost effective wireless services to customers. One such example is Ting, a Toronto-based company offering services to Americans, but is unable to operate in Canada as the Big 3 won’t sell them any of their network to use.

The CRTC decision on wholesale roaming concluded it would regulate rates, forcing the Rogers, TELUS and Bell to eventually lower prices for startup wireless entrants such as WIND Mobile and Videotron. However, the lack of mandate for MVNOs is what’s at issue right now for these smaller ISPs.