TekSavvy Welcomes CRTC Investigation into Rogers-Vidéotron Network Sharing Agreements

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is looking into network-sharing agreements between Rogers and Vidéotron that are part of the former’s still-pending $26 billion acquisition of Shaw Communications (via The Globe and Mail).

Rogers has signed a deal with Vidéotron to provide favourable access to its networks for an extended period of time as part of the $2.85 billion sale of Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron’s parent company, Quebecor — a side sale included in the broader Rogers-Shaw deal. Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator has asked Rogers to disclose the details of these network-sharing agreements.

This comes after independent internet service provider (ISP) TekSavvy in January urged the CRTC to look into the Vidéotron deal, alleging that the wholesale network agreements with Rogers were “unlawful” and offered preferential rates that aren’t available to anyone else.

Celebrating the CRTC’s decision, TekSavvy emailed the following statement to iPhone in Canada:

“We welcome this much-needed investigation into the matters raised in our application and appreciate that the CRTC is acting quickly. The dominant carriers are using unlawful wholesale agreements to eliminate competitors from the market. The CRTC has exclusive jurisdiction over this matter, and Minister Champagne is right to hold his decision about the Rogers-Shaw merger until the issues raised in this proceeding are remedied.”

—Andy Kaplan-Myrth, TekSavvy’s Vice-President of Regulatory and Carrier Affairs.

The CRTC already okayed Rogers’ acquisition of Shaw last year, but the regulator is now looking into the Vidéotron-Freedom deal. Following TekSavvy’s Part 1 application to the CRTC, Freedom Mobile founder Globalive Capital filed a submission in support of the request.

Last month, Rogers and Shaw told the CRTC that the Vidéotron will be good for competition. The $26 billion Rogers-Shaw transaction remains in limbo, hinging on Industry, Science and Technology Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s approval of the transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Quebecor.

Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor’s mutual deadline for both transactions, which they previously extended to March 31, is fast approaching. It’s currently unclear if the CRTC’s review of Rogers and Vidéotron’s network-sharing agreements will have any bearing on Minister Champagne’s final decision.