According to a submission from Google to the federal government’s panel reviewing broadcasting and telecommunications laws, the American company is pushing for support of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), which would allow for companies to offer wireless services by purchasing wholesale rates from existing incumbents, without setting up their own wireless networks.
As reported by The Logic, Google wants MVNOs to easily operate in Canada. Existing wireless carriers such as Rogers, Telus, Bell and Shaw oppose MVNOs, which are seen to undercut existing pricing.
“To facilitate this, and to further competition in wireless and wireline markets, we support the adoption of the flexible telecommunications regime that would readily permit the introduction of new services, such as Mobile Virtual Network Operators, and allow for more flexibility in spectrum management,” notes Google’s submission.
Back in February, Google applied for the trademark ‘Google Fi’ in Canada, as noted by MobileSyrup. Google Fi is an MVNO that operates in the U.S., offering unlimited calls and texts for $20 USD per month and data at $10 per gigabyte (capped at $60 USD, then data is free). Some Canadians have used Google Fi while roaming in Canada, however, Google does limit roaming with its service.
“Under the current rules, Google is theoretically able to set up as an MVNO in Canada, if a [network operator] willingly signed an agreement with them,” said Patricia Valladao, media relations manager at the CRTC, to The Logic. “No such agreement is currently in place.”
Advocates of MVNOs say consumers will see lower wireless pricing due to increased competition. Incumbent wireless companies argue against MVNOs, arguing companies “piggybacking” off networks would reduce their future investments in technologies such as 5G, while also claiming the country’s wireless landscape is competitive enough.