CRTC kicks off two weeks of wireless hearings with Competition Bureau’s call for limited MVNOs


Ian Scott, the telecommunications regulator’s CEO, said the meetings will focus on competition in the mobile market; the possibility of requiring the country’s legacy telecom providers to give mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) access to their networks at set prices; and rules to speed up 5G infrastructure deployment. Industry representatives, startups and municipal governments are scheduled to testify. Going first, the Competition Bureau said mandated network access should be given only to firms with existing telecom infrastructure. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Despite strong opposition from existing wireless carriers, policymakers appear increasingly sold on some form of regulation to help MVNOs—carriers that buy access to existing telecom infrastructure rather than building their own— expand in the Canadian market. The Liberal government has signalled it plans to open the market to MVNOs, and in March 2019, the CRTC said it was considering mandated access. The Competition Bureau’s model would limit the number of new entrants in the Canadian market, since building or acquiring facilities to qualify would require significant capital. But the antitrust watchdog argued a “broad” policy would hurt the competitiveness of existing fourth-place carriers in different parts of the country, whose presence it said has helped reduce prices.