Quebecor Urges Minister to Step In Amid Dispute with Rogers

Quebecor has called on federal Industry Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, to mediate its ongoing dispute with Rogers over wholesale wireless roaming rates.

This follows Rogers’ announcement that it will appeal a recent wireless rate-setting decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Earlier this year, Rogers and Quebecor entered final-offer arbitration due to disagreements over rates for Quebecor’s Videotron subsidiary to use Rogers’ wireless network. This was in line with the CRTC’s new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) policy.

The CRTC subsequently sided with Quebecor’s offer, emphasizing that fair rates don’t necessarily require instant returns for dominant carriers. This includes Rogers, Bell, Telus, and SaskTel, which are required to provide network access to their smaller counterparts under the MVNO framework.

However, Rogers expressed its intent to challenge this decision in court, as stated in a recent letter to Minister Champagne on Friday, obtained by The Globe and Mail.

This move holds significance given Quebecor’s plans for national expansion following its acquisition of Freedom Mobile, a key element of Rogers’ takeover of Shaw. This major takeover saw Rogers and Quebecor collaborating to finalize the deal amidst regulatory challenges.

Now, only a few months after the deal’s closure, the telecom giants are seemingly in conflict. Quebecor alleges Rogers is demonstrating “bad faith” in its actions. Rogers, in response, is standing firm. Zac Carreiro, a spokesperson for Rogers, voiced concerns over legal inaccuracies in the CRTC’s judgment, stating, “After careful consideration, given the potential impact of this decision, we will be seeking leave to appeal.”

According to Quebecor, during a February 22 meeting, Rogers had promised the department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada that the arbitration would be seen as final. They further allege that Rogers sought this arbitration “as a compromise” to obtain the minister’s nod for its acquisition of Shaw. Quebecor contends that Rogers is now deceitfully rejecting the arbitration process and its results.

Quebecor’s communication to Minister Champagne said, “Rogers’ duplicity with you and with us should not be without consequence and should be considered a flagrant breach of its commitments to the Department. The government should take the necessary steps to remedy the misrepresentations made to ISED and ultimately to Canadians.”

Under the new MVNO system, smaller regional players can utilize the networks of larger telecoms for a period of seven years in locations where they hold spectrum licenses. The main goal is to help these smaller companies expand their reach and revenue while they establish their infrastructures in new markets.

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