Videotron to CRTC: Lower Wholesale Roaming Costs Will Help Expand Service to Canadians

At this week’s CRTC hearings on the wireless wholesale industry, Videotron’s parent company Quebecor argued lower Big 3 roaming costs will enable the upstart carrier to expand service nationwide and bring “top-notch mobile services” to Canadians.

“In Quebec, Videotron has demonstrated that having a fourth facilities-based competitor gives consumers more choice, better service and lower prices,” said Manon Brouillette, President and CEO of Videotron. “All Canadians can enjoy the same benefits if the CRTC creates the right conditions.”

Quebecor told the CRTC it wants wireless roaming charges to be based on actual network costs, instead of current rates which have other costs added in including equipment subsidies, marketing, customer acquisition, retail and online distribution channels, customer service and debt collection, as mandated by Bill C-31.

Brouillette says these extra costs tackled on mean it’s “unfair and absurd to make new entrants finance the incumbent carriers by supporting their business operations in this way. No new entrant, no matter how financially healthy, can sustain such high roaming charges.”

Quebecor also shared its view on mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), referring to Cogeco Cable’s recent push to the CRTC to favour this business model as a way of increasing wireless competition. Brouillette called it “illogical and indeed unfair to start favouring MVNOs,” since incumbents and upstarts have invested so much capital to date in building networks.

Videotron wants stricter regulation to allow it to have access to tower sharing from incumbent transmission towers. The company says it has invested over $1.8 billion to date on spectrum acquisitions and building out its existing wireless network.

Earlier in the week TELUS said overregulation could harm the wireless industry like in Europe, while Rogers argued regulation is not required as wireless and retail markets are competitive. Regional carriers MTS, SaskTel and Tbaytel told the CRTC wholesale roaming caps are hurting them, as they are unable to charge fair market rates to incumbents.

The same message was echoed by Videotron earlier this summer, when it announced plans it wants to bring “new high quality, low-cost wireless” to Canadians. It needs the CRTC to lower ‘Big 3’ wholesale roaming rates, but whether that will ultimately happen remains to be seen.

Videotron launched sales of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last week; the inclusion of the iPhone line up has helped the company increase its wireless sales.