CRTC shuts down appeal on wireless access filed by smaller ISPs

Rob Attrell

February 18, 2016 9:25pm

The CRTC has been incredibly busy this year, facing the usual complaints about carrier collusion, as well as hearing arguments from smaller Internet service providers about a lack of competition in the wireless industry.

Back in May, the Commission ruled that network providers who make an effort to build their own cellular network would be able to purchase access to other networks in locations where they don’t have infrastructure of their own. At the time, the CRTC did not mandate that fully virtual carriers (MVNO), those having no network infrastructure of their own, would be legally afforded that same network access from the bigger carriers.

The Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC, a group consisting of some of the country’s smaller wireless players) filed an appeal to that decision in August, hoping to win a legal requirement that saw larger carriers being required to sell any carrier shares of their network capacity. Specifically, some of the CNOC member companies that resell cable and DSL services are looking into offering cellular services as well, but those companies don’t maintain their own cell towers.

On Thursday, the CRTC responded to the August appeal, ruling that the original decision would stand, since the facts and arguments since then hadn’t substantially changed. The CRTC noted that mandating this kind of wholesale agreement weakens the other wireless carriers, particularly new entrants like Videotron and Wind (now owned by Shaw). These companies, and future MVNOs, would be more likely to rely on existing towers than to invest in their own networks.

The CRTC added that wireless carriers spent $7.5 billion on wireless infrastructure and network investments in 2014, which is over half of the telecommunications sector’s network investments for the year.

SourceCRTCGlobe
  • Techguru86

    let’s also not forget CRTC, smaller internet providers haven’t been monopolizing cable, home phone, internet and wireless for decades, 7.5billion is peanuts to what they make from everything every year and over the past few decades.

  • robinottawa

    Not sure I followed the thread. CRTC said that their decision stands, that unless you build SOME of your own infrastructure, you can’t demand access to bandwidth from large companies?

    • casey

      Yes. This means that someone can’t do what teksavvy does in internet. They mainly buy wholesale access from other companies and resell it to you.

      This does mean they have to provide wholesale access to companies like wind who have their own infistructure, but don’t have as wide as a coverage area.

  • CrazyCanuck

    It’s a fair decision. If a company pours billions into developing infrastructure, they should not be forced to allow smaller companies to use their network. I’m all for them having arrangements by choice, but not by force.

    If a company does not have the necessary funds or wherewithal to build their own infrastructure, they should not be in the industry.

    • arahman21

      By that logic, TPIAs shouldn’t exist either.

    • Striker67

      Its not like they were being told to sell it at a loss. They would have still made money on the purchase. A good business decision for robelus but a bad decsion for the canadian public who,will continue to pay higher prices than necessary. Competition drives prices down. All you have to do is look at Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Far lower prices than the rest of the country because of strong local competiton. Investment in infrastructure is a wise business decsion, but all this did was protect corporate profits.

    • xanth18

      I wish there was “competition” in this market. That would actually be good… instead of the usual collusion crap these companies practice.

    • It’s Me

      Except that the Canadian giants became giants only with the largess and protection of Canadian policy and regulation. Part of responsibility of accepting that helping hand for decades is the government may use it to foster other areas.

    • casey

      Except that these networks were built with large portions of public money to start, and they want to fully control access to them.

    • SycloneRob

      I keep reading this but where did rogers get subsidies for their cable plant? I now bell got subsidies for their twisted pair plant which is why they were forced to lease their stuff out to third parties but Rogers was forced way later for which like I have said they haven’t received subsidies for their wireline plant.

    • Laer

      This often has very little to do with “funding or wherewithal.”

      If I had a reasonable amount of funding and the gumption to start a small cellular data provider for say rural internet there’s no chance in hell for me.

      Without access to bandwidth I’m hooped. I can’t buy it, or lease it.

      Carriers should be forced to provide wholesale access to their networks because they are using a very limited resource that belongs to the Canadian people.

      Wholesale access includes build out and maintenance costs in the pricing, it’s not like robellus is financing these small companies, they would be sharing a limited Canadian resource for a reasonable profit.

  • It’s Me

    It incredible how quickly the CRTC jumped back in bed with these guys immediately after the election. They aren’t even trying to pretend.

    • NotARogersEmployee

      The CRTC upheld a decision made prior to the election. They never got out of the bed to begin with.

    • It’s Me

      True enough. I guess they took a gamble on how the election turned out. If the cons won, then it might get reversed as they did in the past, but it worked out for them in the end.

  • hardy83

    Even if they changed their minds I doubt prices would’ve changed.

    *sigh* I wish our communications infrastructure was nationalized… They never should’ve been privatized, it’s caused nothing but problems… Though if they were public owned, knowing incompetent politicians, there’s be a different set of problems but I’d rather that than what we have now.

  • Ricky Bobby

    Just the other day the chairman said this about Robellus:

    “I fear those who manage media — the corporate executives,
    accountants, lawyers and MBAs — have lost touch with their audiences.
    Analysts on Bay Street focus on quarterly results, profits, balance
    sheets, share prices and other calling cards of private wealth.

    “They do not care nearly as much about the health of costly endeavours that preserve the wealth of our democracy,” Blais said.

    The chairman pointed to the success of Quebec-based newspaper La
    Presse — which has done away with its weekday printed product in favour
    of a robust suite of online options — as an inspiration for other media
    companies who are dealing with disruptive internet technology.

    “Corporate executives cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend
    that change isn’t happening. They must rise up and meet the challenge
    of a new content era head on.”

    Actions speak louder than words. Good to see our tax money at work with the CRTC

  • Crossed

    This is just the CRTC using spit instead of lube.

  • blzd

    Quote from the CRTC creates an online tool article:

    “We have heard repeatedly that consumers crave choice and affordability when it comes to choosing communication services.” – CRTC