Briefing

Competition Bureau calls for regulatory overhaul to get Bell, Rogers and Telus to lower prices

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The bureau is calling for a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) policy that would require the Big Three to sell access to regional carriers like Freedom Mobile and Vidéotron, as part of a 51-page submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The sale requirement would be temporary and contingent on regional carriers expanding their own networks. The bureau is also calling for a reduction in roaming rates, and tower-sharing and site-access rules that would benefit smaller carriers. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The most significant ask from the bureau was echoed in the platform of the recently re-elected Liberal Party. Both want MVNOs to become a bigger part of Canada’s wireless landscape. There’s another powerful group pushing for the same thing: in July, my colleague Murad broke the news that Google was asking Ottawa to make it easier to expand MVNOs in Canada. The company already runs one, Google Fi, in the United States. Rogers, Bell, Telus and Shaw have all opposed widespread MVNO rollouts in their own recent submissions to the CRTC; the telecoms will now have until March 23, 2020 to submit to the CRTC again and challenge the Competition Bureau’s proposed regulatory framework. During the election campaign, the Liberals said they wanted to work with telecoms for two years and then step in if prices don’t go down enough. The bureau is offering the Liberals a path forward for how to do the latter.