Quebecor, Rogers Seek CRTC Arbitration on Network Access


  • Rogers and Quebecor want the CRTC’s help in negotiating an MVNO agreement.
  • The two companies have failed to reach an agreement despite striking several other deals for network access in recent months.
  • In a letter dated days after Quebecor bought Freedom Mobile from Rogers-Shaw, the two companies deemed arbitration “necessary.”

Rogers and Quebecor have asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to step in after being unable to negotiate terms for a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, agreement — reports The Globe and Mail.

Last year, the CRTC finalized the details of the MVNO framework, designed to allow regional wireless providers to compete across Canada by accessing network infrastructure owned by Rogers, Telus, Bell, and SaskTel while they build out their own.

Under the CRTC’s terms, regional wireless operators will be able to access the larger carriers’ networks for up to seven years in areas where they own wireless spectrum. Earlier this month, the Commission ruled that companies would have 90 days to negotiate MVNO access agreements.

The parties can decide the rates for wireless network access as part of negotiations, with final-offer arbitration from the CRTC available if needed. Representatives for Rogers and Quebecor said in a letter to the telecom regulator that the two sides have been unable to agree on commercial rates despite exhaustive discussions.

“We therefore have concluded that [final offer arbitration] before the Commission is necessary,” they wrote.

The letter was dated April 6, just days after Quebecor bought Freedom Mobile as part of the $26 billion Rogers-Shaw merger. While Quebecor leveraged the Freedom sale to establish several commercial agreements with Rogers for infrastructure access, it looks like the two companies weren’t able to finalize MVNO terms.

The CRTC accepted the two companies’ request for final offer arbitration on April 27, inviting both to submit their final offers by May 12. Rogers has asked for a two-week extension to that deadline.

In addition to Rogers, Quebecor is also seeking MVNO agreements with Bell and Telus. According to Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau, Bell and Telus have used “delay tactics” to slow the negotiations.

Back in January, Quebecor submitted a request to the CRTC for final offer arbitration with Bell. However, the company’s request was denied because the Commission found that the pair hadn’t made a “good faith effort” to initiate discussions.

“Following a 30-day period of serious negotiations, if the parties have negotiated in good faith and an impasse persists, a new [final offer arbitration] application may be filed,” Claude Doucet, general secretary for the CRTC, wrote on February 17.