Globalive Urges CRTC to Suspend Unfair Rogers-Vidéotron Agreements

Freedom Mobile founder Globalive Inc. wants the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to temporarily suspend network access agreements between Rogers and Vidéotron, alleging that they are unfair and will negatively impact Globalive’s planned return to the wireless market — reports The Globe and Mail.

Rogers and Shaw are selling Freedom to Quebecor’s Vidéotron in a side sale that’s part of their long-embattled $26 billion merger.

On top of the sale, Rogers has struck several commercial agreements with Vidéotron to offer the latter wholesale access to its networks at “highly favourable” rates in order to allow the Quebec-based telecom operator to maintain the level of competition currently provided by Freedom.

Globalive on Monday filed a submission with the CRTC in support of a January application from independent internet service provider Teksavvy that calls on the watchdog to investigate the “unlawful” rates Rogers has agreed to offer Vidéotron.

The company argued in its application that the preferential rates will cause “irreparable harm” to potential new entrants, urging the CRTC to suspend the agreements until it completes its review.

“Rogers has provided Videotron with highly advantageous, off-tariff commercial agreements to enable them to compete and we want to ensure that all competitors have access to these rates should these agreements be permitted to stand,” Globalive founder and chairman Anthony Lacavera said in a statement.

“In addition to participating in the TekSavvy CRTC intervention, we will be filing our own intervention this week to more specifically focus on the highly-favourable wireless roaming rates that Rogers has offered Videotron,” he added.

Globalive hopes to make a comeback to Canada’s wireless market with its recently announced bid to acquire wireless spectrum from Manitoba’s Xplore Mobile, which shut down back in August 2022 due to regulatory delays, and a network- and spectrum-sharing deal with Telus.

Furthermore, Globalive also wants the exact terms of any agreements struck between Rogers and Vidéotron to be made public, at least in an abridged form.

“There is a strong public interest in ensuring that the preferential terms and rates are known so that competitors can seek similar access, and that any bundles are not crafted such that no other competitor could access similar rates or terms, or even access similar services,” the company wrote in its application to the CRTC.

According to a report from last week, Rogers and Vidéotron are in negotiations over several commercial issues, including domestic roaming rates. Globalive alleged in its application that the negotiations mean the rates Rogers is offering Vidéotron “are getting more and more preferential” by the day.

The Rogers-Shaw merger and Vidéotron’s contingent acquisition of Freedom Mobile are currently being held up by Industry, Science and Technology Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who must approve the transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Quebecor for both transactions to move forward.

Minister Champagne’s office has become the last authority left to approve the Rogers-Shaw merger and Freedom sale following the Federal Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the Competition Bureau’s appeal against a federal tribunal decision to greenlight the deals.

Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor previously extended their mutual deadline for the deals from January 31 to February 17, 2023.

Minister Champagne, who is facing pressure from the public and fellow members of the government to block the transactions, told the House of Commons industry and technology committee on Monday that he is “not bound by any artificial deadline” and would make a decision once he has reviewed all of the relevant facts.