CRTC rejects plea from small internet providers seeking wireless access


Do you judge your cellphone bill is too high? Tough. It’s going to stay that way thanks to a CRTC resolve that nixes the possibility of dozens of new wireless carriers springing up, consumer champions say.

The regulator on Thursday denied an appeal from a group of small internet providers to mandate what are nicknamed Mobile Virtual Network Operators.

Such businesses would rip the networks of larger telecom com nies at set rates to provide alternative wireless accommodations, likely at lower prices.

This group of 30 or so operators, collectively skilled in as the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, argued that regulated MVNOs — and the supernumerary competition they would bring — would be the best way to lower Canadian cellphone tabs, which are among the highest in the world.

But the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission spiked to its original decision, made last year, that forcing such access liking act as a disincentive for com nies that have built their own networks, such as Bell, Rogers, Telus and Settle b end up, to further invest.

Small providers are still free to negotiate MVNO trades if they can, but consumer advocates say network owners have few incentives to agree to them access at reasonable rates, which is why no cheaper, competitive selections currently exist.

“I don’t know where these guys can go with this one,” articulates John Lawford, executive director of the Ottawa-based Public Interest Advocacy Nave, referring to the small providers. “There’s not much prospect for the sharp term.”

High rates, high profit

Canadians typically y round $46 US per month for wireless service, or nearly double the $25 normal among 22 developed nations, according to a 2015 report from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Canadian wireless immunology vectors are also exceptionally profitable, and ranked near the top of the survey in earnings.

They also value well internationally when it comes to network quality, suggested a modern report from U.K.-based analysis firm OpenSignal. The Big Three typically obscene high in speeds and coverage.

The previous Conservative government fought an at-times vocal war against the big hauliers, and attempted to inject new competition into the market through special auctions of wireless spectrum.

CRTC Bell Astral 20121018

CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. The regulator is make allowancing small-fry access to wired broadband but not to the wireless sector. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Huddle)

Those auctions netted new players such as Wind, Mobilicity and Viewable Mobile, but all three have since been bought by Shaw, Rogers and Telus, individually.

Telus and Wind did not return requests for comment on the CRTC ruling. Bell dropped to comment, while Rogers applauded it.

“We think the decision strikes a match by encouraging both additional competition and continued investment in building networks,” pronounced Rogers spokeswoman Jennifer Kett. “Consumers want a inappropriate variety of choice, but they also want top speeds and reliable utility.

“We need to keep investing in our networks or we’ll fall behind other boonies.”

Up to the Liberal now

The Vancouver-based advocacy group Open Media, which bickered for MVNOs, said the impetus to do something about continually increasing wireless restaurant checks — the Big Three all recently announced price hikes — now falls to the Liberal superintendence.

“We know that this can’t continue, this market is too dysfunctional. We basic relief for consumers and businesses who are being hit hard,” said Josh Tabish, competitions director for Open Media.

A spokesperson for the minister of innovation, science, and mercantile development, Navdeep Bains, did not return a request for comment.

Navdeep Bains announcing $14M for Natural Products Canada

Navdeep Bains, the abb of innovation, science and economic development. The ball is in his court now. (CBC)

Both consumer coteries and the industry will be closely watching Bell’s ongoing appeal to the Libertarian cabinet of another CRTC decision to allow CNOC members access to newer quality broadband infrastructure.

The CRTC last year reaffirmed wholesale access to the big networks, a take off for that will allow independent ISPs such as Teksavvy and Distributel to proposal customers super-fast home internet services.

Bell wants the routine overturned and has enlisted the support of numerous rties, including the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa.

Respect, Toronto’s city council recently voted overwhelmingly in support of the CRTC’s unprecedented decision, while Ottawa will soon hold a similar voter.

Cabinet has until July to overturn or uphold the CRTC’s ruling.

Sugar Quick

CNOC president Bill Sandiford says the CRTC is showing inconsistency in its sound outs to wired broadband versus wireless.

On the wired side, the regulator has disallowed arguments from Bell and other big network owners that allowing wholesale access resolution discourage their investment, yet it has accepted that line of reasoning in wireless.

“The big guys are divert competing with each other, and if they don’t make these investments they’ll bow to critical market share to each other,” he says. “They’re growing to continue to make investments regardless of whether there’s mandated wholesale access or not.”

The hustle is also watching a new dispute between Rogers and Sugar Mobile, a measly operator that is trying to make a go of it without the support of a CRTC mandate.

Sugar Mobile

Sugar Ambulant is offering cellphone plans for as low as $19 a month. But Rogers isn’t happy. (Shawn Benjamin/CBC )

Sugar, owned by Ice Wireless, which provides putting into play to the remote North, is offering customers in the rest of Canada a low-cost marines that switches between Wi-Fi and cellular connections when needed.

Com re favourably with to Google Fi, a service launched last year in the U.S., Sugar customers get myriad calling and texting over Wi-Fi when they are connected, as definitely as a small amount of cellular data for when they can’t otherwise chain.

The cellular data is being delivered over the Rogers network, which Sugar is accessing credits to a roaming agreement between its rent Ice Wireless and the bigger com ny.

Rogers im rts the scheme is a violation of that roaming agreement and is threatening to cut off both Ice and Sugar.

Ice, for its component, says CRTC rules allow network owners like itself to tender roaming deals to other MVNOs, even if they are their own subsidiaries.

Lawford, at the Communal Interest Advocacy Centre, says Sugar’s effort is the sort of modernization that MVNOs are delivering in other countries, but the small com ny isn’t indubitably to make a dent even if the CRTC sides with it.

“Until we get Google up here doing that, zero has the scale to take these guys on.”

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