Rogers Now Wants Quebecor to Pay Higher Network Rates [Update]

Rogers is challenging the rates set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), casting doubt on the federal agency’s efforts to increase competition among wireless providers. This move follows the government’s earlier approval of Rogers’ $26-billion acquisition of Shaw.

“Expectations that Rogers would play nice as a result of this merger were unrealistic. The chickens are coming home to roost,” said Ben Klass, a telecom researcher, speaking to the National Post.

The CRTC, earlier this year, determined the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) rates Quebecor will pay Rogers for network access. Following the rate-setting, Quebecor was anticipated to extend its cellphone services nationally. Rogers, however, filed an appeal against the CRTC’s decision on August 23, contesting the rates.

Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne had approved the Rogers-Shaw merger on the basis that it would “improve affordability, competition, and innovation in the telecommunications sector.” Rogers had also promised that the deal would ensure a strong fourth national wireless carrier, a claim now being tested in the courtrooms.

Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau criticized Rogers for their “surprising and incomprehensible turnaround,” stating, “Now that the transaction has taken place and the necessary approvals have been obtained, Rogers is patently acting in bad faith by refusing to accept the decision.”

In a statement, a Rogers spokesperson maintained that their appeal was consistent with their “rights and obligations,” and blamed the CRTC’s decision on “a number of legal errors.”

Industry advocates warn that Rogers’ legal move could be a major setback for the CRTC’s long-term strategy to foster more competition in the Canadian wireless market.

Matt Hatfield of advocacy group OpenMedia stated, “Rogers got their deal with Shaw approved, and now they will do everything they can to prevent Quebecor from becoming the effective national competitor our government promised Canadians.”

Klass also noted that delays are a “well-established part of the modus operandi of these companies,” signaling the battle over Canadian wireless rates and competition may be far from over.

The federal government approved the Rogers-Shaw deal after the latter promised more competition, MVNO rates were agreed to by both companies, and now Rogers wants to seek higher rates, which of course would mean possibly higher prices for consumers. Sounds about par for the course in Canada, eh?

Update August 31, 2023: A Rogers spokesperson told iPhone in Canada it’s not fair to say they are reversing course, instead arguing that “under the Telecommunications Act, there is a statutory right to seek leave to appeal and this step is consistent with our rights and obligations.”

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