CRTC Paves Way for Quebecor to Expand Cellphone Services Nationwide


The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has made a pivotal decision that it says will bring more affordable cellphone plans for Canadians, while motivating companies to sustain their investment in top-tier networks.

The Monday announcement establishes the tariff that Quebecor will pay Rogers to provide services using the latter’s wireless network across the nation. This brings forth a big part in the CRTC’s policy to increase competition in Canada’s cellphone market.

This policy endorses regional firms to compete as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) leveraging the networks of Canada’s principal companies. By gaining access to larger networks, regional contenders can offer services in areas they do not currently cater to. Subsequently, they are obligated to develop their own networks in these regions within a seven-year timeframe.

Following the CRTC’s rules for MVNO access formulated on May 9, companies had until August 7 to negotiate contracts. If companies fail to reach an agreement, they have the provision to request the CRTC to fix the rate through a ‘final offer arbitration’ process. Both Quebecor and Rogers appealed to the CRTC to initiate arbitration.

After comprehensive scrutiny and elaborate evaluation of the proposals, the CRTC favoured the rate proposed by Quebecor. The decision was made in accordance with the Telecommunications Act and the 2023 Policy Direction, ensuring a balance of competition, affordability, and network investment.

In light of this decision, Quebecor, through its branches Videotron, Freedom Mobile, and Fizz, is anticipated to extend its cellphone services across more regions in Canada.

Just today, Freedom Mobile announced it would start rolling out its 5G network to select cities in Canada within 10 days, alongside nationwide data buckets.

Vicky Eatrides, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of CRTC, said, “Today’s decision is another step forward in facilitating more choice in cellphone services while also ensuring investment in high-quality networks. We will continue to move quickly to provide certainty to companies and to allow for greater competition for Canadians.”

In 2021, the CRTC initiated its policy to increase cellphone competition, but only allowed regional competitors to sell services using the networks of Canada’s major wireless companies (we still don’t have true MVNOs like in the U.S.). The rules for this policy were finalized in 2023, requiring companies to negotiate contracts by August 7, 2023.

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