CRTC shuts down appeal on wireless access filed by smaller ISPs


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.