CRTC orders big three to lower roaming rates, data-only package costs; review of MVNO access 'within next year'

23 Mar 2018

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) yesterday (22 March 2018) finalised the wholesale rates that nationwide mobile operators Rogers, Telus and Bell must charge smaller Canadian wireless companies for network roaming, retroactively replacing the interim rates set by the CRTC in May 2015 under its original decision to regulate the roaming services of the ‘big three’. The final rates are 44% to 99% lower – depending on the carrier and whether voice, text or data service – compared to rates prior to the CRTC’s 2015 decision (see weblink for actual rates). The operators must comply with the order within 30 days. The CRTC said that the measure is aimed at facilitating sustainable competition in the wireless market.

The CRTC also ordered Bell, Rogers and Telus to submit proposals for lower-cost data-only mobile packages by 23 April 2018, which will be published for public comment. The stated aim of the consultation is to ensure lower-cost data-only wireless plans are available to Canadians nationwide, as part of efforts ‘to foster affordability, innovation and choice’.

The CRTC also announced that it will initiate a ‘complete review’ of its wholesale mobile wireless framework ‘within the next year’, including its policy on wholesale MVNO access. In previous reviews and decisions, the regulator has repeatedly declined requests to mandate mobile network access for MVNOs/resellers, and therefore such access has remained subject solely to commercial negotiations with network operators.