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Rogers Practiced “Unjust Discrimination and Undue Preference” With Respect to Roaming Agreements

July 31, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was looking into complaints about Rogers, Canada’s largest carrier, and found that “there were clear instances of unjust discrimination and undue preference by Rogers Communications Partnership…[in regards to] the wholesale mobile wireless roaming rates it charged certain new entrants.”  The study started in December after reports had surfaced about these unfair practices in the way they were pricing domestic roaming charges to the smaller carriers, such as Wind, Mobilicity, Videotron and others.  These agreements allow a smaller carrier’s subscribers to make phone calls, text messages and use data on a larger carrier’s network.  In March, the commission recommended to make changes to the Telecommunications Act, which in effect said that any telcos could charge no more for roaming fees to the smaller carriers than they were charging their own customers for wireless services.

Several parties complained that the national wireless carriers were unjust in their charges and today’s decision singled out Rogers as the main culprit in suppressing competition by charging so much for roaming fees to the smaller companies.  The Commission found that they were “charging or proposing to charge wholesale mobile wireless roaming rates for voice, data and text services that are many times higher than: The rates they charge U.S.-based mobile wireless carriers – The rates they charge other Canadian mobile wireless carriers – The rates they charge their own retail customers for these services – Their costs for providing wholesale mobile wireless roaming services.”

Earlier this year, the Competition Bureau said the same thing: “national wireless carriers can use wholesale roaming agreements as a strategic tool to ensure that new entrants are not, and do not become, effective competitors… [and] there is a significant risk that they will either become niche players with little competitive effect or simply exit the Canadian mobile wireless market.”  This goes directly against what the Federal Government is trying to do as they continue to ‘nurture’ a fourth large competitor in Canada’s wireless community.

The Commission’s decision “prohibits exclusivity provisions in wholesale mobile wireless roaming agreements between Canadian carriers for service in Canada” is the first step toward sweeping changes in the way the wireless companies in Canada do business with one another.  There was no decision yet on whether any form of cap on domestic roaming would be set, but the decision today looks promising to the small companies like Wind, Videotron, Eastlink and others, giving them the ability to negotiate reasonable rates with the Big Three. Please hook up with us on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think about Rogers’ and the charges brought against them – are you one of their subscribers that got taken for a ride…as always, we would love to hear from you.