Canada Competition Bureau

CRTC to Dictate what Big Three can Charge Other Companies for Roaming

May 6, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

There is no busier Federal Government agency in Canada than the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Less than a week ago, they issued a “Three-Year Plan,” defining six goals that are to be implemented during the years 2015 – 2018 and “is the Commission’s commitment to Canadians to pursue its efforts to modernize the communication system.  We plan to undertake a number of activities to enable Canadians to step into the digital future with confidence and to ensure that the communication system protects their health and safety,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC.  Rogers was cited by the CRTC last year concerning the overcharging of roaming fees. Last year, a regulation was issued with enforcement starting in June and will establish interim rates until new decisions are officially announced.  According to that ruling, carriers are limited to charging their roaming partners no more than they charge their own customers.

The CRTC made a new announcement to continue to foster competition and investment in the Canadian wireless infrastructure.  The CRTC will begin to regulate certain wholesale rates that Rogers Communications, Bell Mobility and Telus charge other Canadian wireless companies – in other words, the smaller carriers and new entrants.  Providing wireless services in Canada and its landscape is no easy task, especially in the lesser populated areas.  Smaller carriers must rely on the Big Three for roaming and other services and CRTC will regulate the rates, terms and conditions in order to increase the competitive landscape.

The CRTC has determined that there is an insufficient level of competition among the Big Three when it comes to roaming charges, citing that they can charge much more than rates that would be allowed in a competitive market place.  The other Canadian wireless companies need these services at reasonable rates for the nation’s wireless service to flourish in a competitive environment.  The CRTC will begin regulating the rates that Bell, Rogers and Telus can charge – there will be interim rates effective today and allow the three companies to file their proposed rates by November 4.

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC said, “With more than 28 million subscribers, the wireless sector is of tremendous importance to Canada’s economy.  Innovation that leverages the use of wireless networks now forms part of our daily life and the important role of wireless technology increases each and every day.  With microcomputers that fit in our palm, pocket or purses, we can do our banking, check up on our kids or elderly parents, apply for jobs, register for Government services or stay in contact with our friends, co-workers or clients.  The measures that we are putting in place today in the wireless market will ensure that Canadians continue to have more choice as well as innovative high-quality services.”