Canada announces cap on mobile roaming charges

20 Dec 2013

Reuters reports that Canada is ushering in new rules to cap mobile roaming rates in the country, as part of an effort to spur competition in the local market. The country’s minister for industry James Moore says that the change in legislation will level the playing field by stopping bigger operators from charging their smaller rivals more than they charge their own customers for roaming voice, data and SMS/MMS services. The minister claims that some cellcos are guilty of charging as much as ten times more to rivals than they charge their own users. In a statement to announce the government’s plans to submit an amendment to the Telecommunications Act in the next few weeks, Mr Moore said: ‘For too long, Canadian consumers in the wireless sector have been the victims of these high roaming costs’. Reuters notes that the governing Conservatives hold a majority in the House of Commons, assuring passage of the bill which will limit the big three cellcos – Rogers Communications, BCE and Telus Corp – to being able to charge their competitors no more than the rate they charge their own retail customers. As such, the Canadian authorities are hoping to encourage smaller carriers to reduce their end-user prices and improve service coverage outside their usual coverage zones (typically restricted to major urban areas). The government also plans to give the country’s telecoms regulator and the industry department powers to fine companies that break rules on such things as the sharing of cellular towers.