CRTC and Bell Keep Fighting Over Videotron Roaming Ban Decision

Bell has filed for the review and variance of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s May ruling that rejected the company’s request to ban Videotron subscribers engaging in permanent roaming from its network.

According to Bell, the CRTC’s original decision contained at least ten separate errors in law. Throughout its latest application, the telecom giant scolded the watchdog for skirting its responsibility to discipline Videotron and ensure compliance.

Bell wants to disconnect Videotron customers who it claims are wrongfully taking advantage of permanent roaming on its network, according to the

Some of Videotron’s customers are permanently roaming on Bell’s network using what the latter essentially described as a loophole in its Access Services Tariff. There is an existing CRTC on permanent roaming.

In an application filed back in May 2021, Bell urged the CRTC to remove “Videotron end-users [that] continue to engage in permanent roaming” from its network.

The national telecom operator alleged that Videotron violated Bell Mobility’s Access Services Tariff and the CRTC’s Telecom Decision (TD) CRTC 2020-483 when it implemented a roaming usage threshold that allows some of its customers to permanently roam on Bell Mobility’s network.

Bell also claimed that Videotron failed to consistently apply the measures outlined in its current Videotron test (CVT) for roaming.

Videotron denied Bell’s claims before the CRTC. The Quebec-based telecom operator asserted that any instances of non-compliance were the result of technical issues and human error, and have since been addressed.

In a letter decision dated May 25, 2022, that was recently made public, the CRTC denied Bell’s application. Canada’s telecom regulator instructed the two companies to resolve the dispute through either good-faith negotiations on their own, or CRTC staff-assisted mediation.

The CRTC said in the letter:

The Commission denies Bell Mobility’s application; the Commission encourages the parties to engage in good-faith negotiations to resolve the dispute, and to avail themselves of staff-assisted mediation if needed. The Commission also reiterates its expectation that the parties regularly exchange information, discuss matters thoroughly and exhaust all appropriate methods available to them in order to resolve disputes, before submitting applications to the Commission. This approach would be a considerably more efficient use of both the parties’ and the Commission’s resources.

Samer Bishay (@SBishayIRIS), founder and CEO of Ontario-based VoIP service provider Iristel, criticized the two clashing companies as well as the Canadian government. Bishay said the feds allow Canadian telcos to squabble amongst themselves while the rest of the world is innovating, “talking about putting internet on Mars and connecting the world direct from satellite.”

He’s referring to yesterday’s SpaceX and T-Mobile announcement to bring cellphone service globally via Starlink and eventually Tesla vehicles.

Videotron’s parent company, Quebecor, is currently in the process of acquiring Freedom Mobile from Rogers and Shaw for $2.85 billion. If successful, the Freedom acquisition could jumpstart Quebecor’s longstanding plans for nationwide expansion.

Update (August 26): The story has been edited to reflect Bell’s new concerns over the CRTC’s May 25 ruling.