Canada tells CRTC to review ruling on Wi-Fi-based providers

06 Juin, 2017, 07:23 | Author: Marc Bacque
  • Navdeep Singh Bains

Wireless competitor Sugar Mobile delighted by today's announcement by the federal government directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to reconsider a recent decision to exclude Wi-Fi-based service providers from access to roaming services.

Ting offers wireless service through a patchwork of Wi-Fi-based networks in the USA, including talk, text and data, with monthly bills that it says average $23 (U.S.).

"This lack of choice does not benefit Canadians", Bainssaid.

The popular and innovative Sugar Mobile service is a made-in-Canada solution that utilizes a combination of Wi-Fi and mobile network roaming to offer customers a cost-effective alternative to some of the world's highest wireless rates.

In a brief email message, the CRTC said it would comply with the order, being careful to say it would reconsider the "aspect of its decision that established the final terms and conditions for access to wholesale mobile wireless roaming service".

An advocate for greater wireless choice praised the review, predicting it could result in cheaper services from new low-priced entrants into Canada's wireless marketplace. Prices, especially for cellphone service, are generally higher than in Europe and the U.S. Carriers argue this is because Canada, with a small population spread over a massive area, demands larger and more expensive infrastructure investment to maintain network quality.

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"If one of the (Canadian) providers would sell us network, we would come into the market immediately".

Noss said the mandated review doesn't appear to open the door to full access to wireless spectrum by MVNOs, and it will likely be a long time before the regulator implements changes needed to ensure access by smaller players.

"This is a fresh approach to kick-starting mobile competition in Canada", said Bram Abramson, TekSavvy's chief legal and regulatory officer, who noted that Wi-Fi-first carriers in other countries are fostering competition.

Canada's last remaining independent wireless provider, Wind Mobile, was rebranded as Freedom Mobile after being bought by telecom giant Shaw Communications past year.

Mr. Bains also announced a streamlined licensing framework to allow more satellite-based providers to enter the market and extend high-speed Internet services to Canadians in rural and remote communities.

In Toronto at the annual Canadian Telecom Summit, The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), delivered a multi-year, multi-pronged strategy to promote innovation in the digital economy.


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