CRTC Rejects Competition Bureau Request for Telecom Info, Sides with Wireless Carriers

Ahead of the CRTC public hearing in January 2020 to study wireless competition and lower pricing for consumers, the Competition Bureau planned to hold their own study into the matter, to coincide with the Commission’s process, reports The Globe and Mail.

The Competition Bureau asked the CRTC to demand from wireless carriers such as Rogers, Telus and Bell, to provide detailed information such as number of wireless subscribers, revenue, market share, profitability and more.

Rogers, Telus and Bell, along with SaskTel and Tbaytel, wrote letters of push back to the CRTC protesting such a request, citing how demanding these specific details would “burden” the companies and also not provide enough time for the carriers to respond before the 2020 public hearing.

On Thursday, April 18, the CRTC rejected the Competition Bureau’s request, citing how the information being asked for “overlaps” the Commission’s own request for info from carriers, in a separate demand made April 5.

“Much of the information in [our requests for information] overlaps with information that is the subject of the Competition Bureau’s proposed questions,” the CRTC explained in its letter. The CRTC went on to say the details sought by the Competition Bureau are “highly granular and [CRTC staff] are concerned that requiring parties to respond to two sets of [requests] at this early stage of the proceeding … would be overly burdensome on the [carriers],” according to the Globe.

“We are disappointed with the decision, however we respect the CRTC’s process and appreciate the commission staff providing a decision on this matter quickly,” said Competition Bureau to the Globe.

“The information that we are seeking is critical to our ability to make an evidence-based submission on the competition issues in this matter,” added the Bureau’s letter.

The CRTC says it wants to investigate again mobile virtual network operators (MNVO), as another option to help make wireless pricing in Canada more affordable. Such companies would not operate their own cell towers, but purchase wholesale network access from existing incumbents and resell at their own rates.