CRTC Mobile Wireless Services Review Public Hearing Moved to February 2020

Back in February, The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced the launch of a ‘comprehensive review’ of Canada’s wireless services, seeking input from Canadians on mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), which would let smaller companies resell wireless services from existing telcos.

A public hearing was set to take place on January 13, 2020, in Gatineau, Quebec, but that date has been delayed to February 18, 2020.

On September 20, the CRTC Commissioner asked for a 30-day extension to the October 23, 2019 deadline for further comments, citing how a “delay in receiving the confidential information left him with fewer than 100 days to conduct his analysis and prepare the studies. He also indicated that some of the responses were deficient, requiring additional time and resources to be expended to follow up with certain carriers.”

This request for a 30-day extension was agreed upon by wireless carriers Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw and Telus.

These carriers also asked for an additional process to reply to the Commissioner’s studies on wireless and eventually also requested the public hearing to be rescheduled between March to May 2020.

The CRTC concluded a hearing delay of five weeks would be “reasonable”, as it “would accommodate the 30-day extension and the new reply phase, and provide sufficient time for parties to prepare for the hearing, but would not significantly extend the length of the proceeding overall.”

The new timeline:

  • November 22, 2019: deadline for filing further comments for all parties
  • January 13, 2020: deadline for parties to reply to Commissioner’s economic studies
  • February 18, 2020: Public hearing begins
  • March 23, 2020: deadline for final submissions

The purpose of this review is to “examine the state of the mobile wireless market and whether further action is required to improve choice and affordability for Canadians,” according to the CRTC back in February. Will this review actually make a difference to wireless services and pricing in Canada?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s re-election promise is to cut cellphone prices by 25% within four years, a goal surely to see some pushback from wireless carriers.