Canadian regulator tells majors to grant wholesale access to MVNOs

16 April 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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In its latest move to reduce mobile prices for consumers, the Canadian regulator has said Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus must allow MVNOs wholesale access to their networks.

The decision will also impact SaskTel, which operates in Saskatchewan.

Wholesale rates will be negotiated between providers, while the terms and conditions will be established by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The arrangement will be in place for seven years, giving regional carriers "time and incentive to expand their wireless networks".

Further, the three must implement "seamless roaming" and, with a deadline of July 14, Bell, Rogers, Telus and SaskTel will be expected to offer low-cost and occasional-use plans in most markets, as well as promote them on their websites, in person and over the phone.

The national carriers and SaskTel must report back to CRTC every six months on their low-cost and occasional-use plan offerings, with the reports published online.

According to reports ahead of the CRTC's final decision BCE Inc, Telus Corp, and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control 89.2% of the market's subscribers and 90.7% of revenue – all opposed the idea.

“While there are encouraging signs that prices are trending downwards, we need to accelerate competition and more affordable options for Canadians," said Ian Scott, chairperson and CEO, CRTC.

"Equally important is ensuring that wireless providers continue to invest in their current networks and build out their 5G networks. The competitive model we are introducing today will result in greater choice and cheaper mobile wireless services for Canadians, who rely on their smartphones now more than ever.”