According to a new report from The Globe and Mail, new discount wireless service provider Sugar Mobile is already facing opposition from Rogers.
Sugar Mobile is a new provider that is offering cheap wireless service using a combination of Wi-Fi access and cellular roaming. The provider is affiliated with Ice Wireless, a company that operates a wireless network in Canada’s northern territories.
The carrier is attempting to leverage that relationship in order to offer cheaper mobile services across Canada. Sugar Mobile said that it can also take advantage of those roaming agreements to offer service to its customers anywhere in Canada, thanks to a policy released by the CRTC last May.
Last month, Sugar Mobile launched a $19-per-month plan that offered owners of unlocked smartphones a SIM card and unlimited talk, text and data usage when connected to WiFi, in addition to 200 MB of cellular data. In a complaint filed to the CRTC on Monday, Rogers said:
“[It has plans to] disconnect both Ice Wireless and Sugar Mobile from roaming on Rogers’ network.”
In an interview on Tuesday, President of Sugar Mobile and Ice Wireless Samer Bishay said:
“We’re trying to innovate and give consumer choice – we’re trying to do everything that that policy was set to do.” He called the dispute with Rogers an example of “using regulatory or legal manoeuvring to really just block competition.”
Even if Rogers cuts off roaming services, Sugar Mobile could still operate because it has roaming agreements with other unnamed carriers.
Rogers spokesman Aaron Lazarus says the company “welcomes all fair competition,” but that Rogers does not have a roaming agreement with Sugar Mobile. “We value our relationship with Ice Wireless and hope these violations of our agreement will be resolved.”
Rogers also has plans to make sure its own customers traveling to northern Canada do not lose access to wireless coverage.
Later this week, the CRTC is expected to rule against a separate challenge to its May decision. The Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC) asked the commission to “review and vary” its decision not to make it mandatory for the large carriers to offer network access to MVNO players.