Industry players submit support messages to CRTC directive, Shaw opposes MVNO review


Industry leaders have started to release comments of strong support with respect to Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains’ proposed directive to the CRTC to consider competition and affordability when making decisions.

The proposed directive was launched on February 26th to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

In its letter, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) said the proposed directive “indicates a clear message to CRTC from the government to reorient telecommunications policy towards consumers.”

“PIAC supports the Government’s proposed New Policy Direction to the CRTC to re-focus Canadian telecommunications regulation on consumers, cost and choice,” said John Lawford, executive director of PIAC. “We expect it will encourage concrete changes like more wireless service options, more Internet service options at higher speeds and all of it at prices Canadians can better afford.”

PIAC said the new proposed directive will lead changes to decisions with respect to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) internet wholesale rates to encourage more competition and improved consumer protection rules.

Bains told MobileSyrup that the proposed directive was made as a result of the specific decision related to Wi-Fi-first MVNOs. He said that after the first decision that was sent back in 2017 and a second was released in 2018, he “felt it was a step in the right direction but more had to be done.”

“And that’s what prompted this policy directive. We want to really focus on the efforts around affordability. We also made it clear we want to see innovation and that innovation can be in many different forms so that’s up to the CRTC how they want to look at the Wi-Fi first MVNO and other innovative solutions that have been provided. But from our perspective, it’s really about more competition,” he said.

Independent internet service provider TekSavvy recently launched a national campaign to promote this new proposed directive. As of April 9th, 66,000 Canadians have responded and sent letters to their local federal Member of Parliament to express their concerns.

In its letter, TekSavvy said that it “strongly supports” the move Bains made and that it “represents a bold move for consumers and sends a long overdue signal to the CRTC to put consumers first in its decision-making. Competition serves consumers by lowering prices and offering services innovations and real choices in the market.”

Shortly after Bains announced the proposed directive, the CRTC launched a review on the state of the mobile wireless market. The review will look at whether or not Wi-Fi-first MVNOs should have mandated access to the networks of the Big Three “until they are able to establish themselves in the market.”

The hearing for the review will begin in January 2020.

Shaw opposes MVNO review

While many are applauding Bains’ initiative and the review of MVNOs in the market, regional carrier Shaw Communications said it was absolutely against MVNOs entering the market.

The company’s CEO Brad Shaw said during its Q2 2019 earnings conference call that Shaw was “surprised if not shocked” to see the CRTC come out with a preliminary review of mandated MVNOs.

“We are opposed to this view and we will be participating as to why the mandated regime is bad for Canadians and bad for sustainable wireless competition and the future of 5G in Canada,” Shaw said during the call.

He said he wasn’t able to give full details on how having MVNOs in the market would affect Shaw’s growth but that in the coming stages and course of the year “we are going to be an active participant.”

“It is hard to say how these changes will affect our decision making, but we are going to be active,” Shaw said