CWTA says changing Canadian wireless policy could interrupt ‘positive momentum’

Canadian policymakers who are considering making changes to Canada’s wireless industry framework say they must do so while ensuring that the changes will continue to drive investments and expand wireless networks.

At the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, the CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), Robert Ghiz, emphasized the importance of quality services, coverage and reasonable prices.

Though at the same time he questioned whether a radical change to Canada’s wireless regulatory framework is required to achieve these outcomes. He noted that Canadian wireless policy has always been based on facilities-based competition.

“Deviating from policies that prefer facilities-based competition, policies that have enabled world-class wireless quality and coverage, as well as a significant downward trend in prices, will interrupt our positive momentum,” said Ghiz in a press release.

Ghiz noted that radical changes could potentially put service expansions in rural areas at risk.

Canadian wireless policy review

These remarks regarding policy change follow the introduction of a proposed policy directive that requires the CRTC to consider “competition, affordability, consumer interest and innovation” before making decisions.

Following the proposed directive, the commission launched a review in February to determine if regulatory measures are required when 5G is deployed into the Canadian market.

The Big Three and regional carriers filed their interventions to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on May 15th. Rogers, Bell and Telus all pushed the CRTC to focus on the future of 5G.

Rogers argued that by focusing on MVNOs, the CRTC is redirecting the conversation from something more important, which is 5G deployment and infrastructure.

Bell said that infrastructure costs would cause carriers to lose around $489 million in annual investments, while Telus argued the CRTC should establish policies that will support investments and construction of 5G networks.

Regional carriers Shaw Communications, SaskTel, and Videotron all argued against mandating MVNOs in Canada, saying they will negatively affect business.

The hearing for the review will begin in January 2020.

Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association