TNW Demands Wholesale Roaming Deals With Bell, Telus

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TNW Wireless, a licensed wireless operator that provides wholesale and retail services in Canada, is demanding wholesale roaming agreements with Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility in an application filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). According to the Toronto-based mobile service provider, Bell and Telus have refused to provide roaming access to TNW Wireless because the wireless service providers believe TNW will allow permanent roaming. That means Bell and Telus suspect that subscribers will be able to use the Bell or Telus network all the time, not TNW Wireless's network. But the company clarifies that it uses both traditional 4G/LTE and proprietary iPCS smartphone-over-IP technology to provide mobile service in the country through extended Home Public Mobile Network coverage. This coverage uses TNW Wireless's Wi-Node system to allow subscribers to remotely use the company's 850MHz licensed spectrum service coverage through a Wi-Fi connection in Canada and across the globe. In other words, a subscriber's phone disconnects from the network of Telus and Bell once a TNW Wi-Node is used. Therefore, TNW Wireless argues that its service cannot be considered roaming as a subscriber's phone connects only to its own network.

In the same filing, TNW Wireless also asked the CRTC to recognize the company's iPCS Cloud Spectrum technology – a method of providing over-the-top voice and text services to consumers – as compliant with Canada's regulations for wireless roaming. Lawry Trevor-Deutsch, president of TNW Wireless, says the iPCS Cloud Spectrum technology has been developed in full compliance with existing regulations. He added that Telus and Bell may resort to CRTC's decision in March against Sugar Mobile's use of public Wi-Fi to provide some of its services. In that ruling, the CRTC concluded that Sugar Mobile allowed its subscribers to get permanent access to the Rogers-owned network and has forbidden the mobile service provider from offering services to consumers beyond its coverage area. TNW Wireless believes the Sugar Mobile case is different from how it provides mobile services.

In the end, Trevor-Deutsch hopes that there will be a huge opposition from the incumbents as mobile services offer higher than average profit margins to them. An update on the situation should follow in the coming months.

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