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Thread: ISED directs CRTC to reconsider Sugar Mobile decision

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    ISED directs CRTC to reconsider Sugar Mobile decision

    Minister Bains instructs CRTC to reconsider its Sugar Mobile decision
    MobileSyrup June 5
    Rose Behar

    Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains announced today at the Canadian Telecom Summit that his ministry is instructing Canada’s telecom regulator to reconsider its March 1st decision that effectively shut down backdoor MVNO Sugar Mobile.

    Sugar Mobile is a Wi-Fi-first carrier that used a roaming agreement with Rogers through its sibling brand Ice Wireless to provide fall-back wireless service when not in its home network in Canada’s north. After receiving complaints from Rogers, the CRTC moved to disallow Sugar customers from using Rogers roaming network as a primary source of service for its customers, noting that it went against its previous decision not to mandate MVNO access to the incumbents’ networks.

    Bains suggested looking at the decision again after noting that “this choice does not benefit Canadians.” He cited the need to lower Canada’s notoriously high wireless prices and noted that Wi-Fi-first MVNOs in the U.S. offer service for as little as $15 USD per month.

    He also told press, however, that the government still recognizes the importance of a ‘facilities-based’ approach that favours operators that build infrastructure.

    “We do still support a facilities-based competition, I made that very clear as well, but at the same time as you know we have [high] price points for consumers in Canada and middle class Canadians are struggling, these are challenges they’re facing, particularly individuals with multiple cellphone bills, multiple wireless consumers in the household.”

    Minister Bains stopped short of saying the decision would result in new policy for MVNOs in Canada, preferring to refer to it as decision that would affect Wi-Fi-first carriers, though he acknowledged there is “a lot of overlap” between Wi-Fi-first and MVNO.

    “The objective is pretty much the same,” said Minister Bains, “It’s just the terminology that’s used. […] How can we use technology to really provide more affordable prices for consumers, and that’s the objective.”
    Minister Bains says he wants the CRTC to look at the decision in a broader context and come back to Ministry of ISED by March of 2018. Minister Bains stopped short of saying the decision would result in new policy for MVNOs in Canada, preferring to refer to it as decision that would affect Wi-Fi-first carriers, though he acknowledged there is “a lot of overlap” between Wi-Fi-first and MVNO.

    “The objective is pretty much the same,” said Minister Bains, “It’s just the terminology that’s used. […] How can we use technology to really provide more affordable prices for consumers, and that’s the objective.”

    Samer Bishay, President and CEO of Sugar Mobile and Ice Wireless, said the decision was a complete surprise.

    “I think is great news for Canadians overall, because we’re going to do our part to deliver what we said we would and I think it’s just a matter of time before we maybe re-enter into some discussions with the operators that have been fighting us all along,” he said.

    Bishay also noted that he believed the decision might force the CRTC and Ministry of ISED to work more closely together.

    “I think we’re going to see a more cohesive approach, because this has happened way too many times. Where one entity does something that doesn’t benefit Canadians and then it gets overruled, not to say this is an overruling yet, it’s a reconsideration. But there’s got to be a more cohesive approach to the Canadian telecom problem and this is a good step forward that will align the two entities a little bit more.”

    The move is a rare instance of the government reviewing a decision of its own motion.
    ...

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    This is significant. It cracks open the door for a review of MVNOs in Canada. Coming as the expression of the government's will, it affords the CRTC another go at mandated access for MVNOs, without having to convey 'we changed our mind' or concede TRP 2015-177 didn't go far enough.

    --
    Why the Wireless Decision Doesn’t Go Far Enough
    CRTC 2014-76: Review of wholesale mobile wireless services

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    CRTC ordered to revisit decision restricting startups from piggybacking on big wireless networks
    Canadian Press, June 5

    A government-ordered review of a recent decision restricting access to the networks of Canada’s big wireless service providers is being hailed as potential good news for consumers.

    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruled in March that Rogers could block customers of Sugar Mobile, a subsidiary of Ice Wireless, from roaming on its network.

    The decision not only effectively paralyzed the startup, but also prevented other smaller mobile service providers from offering cheaper plans and consequently limits choice in the market, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Monday in calling for a rethink of the ruling.

    “This decision excludes Wi-Fi based providers from access to regulated roaming services,” Bains said while speaking at an annual conference in Toronto for the Canadian telecommunications industry.

    “And that effectively prevents Wi-Fi based providers from offering their low-cost plans to consumers. This lack of choice does not benefit Canadians.”

    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.”
    ...
    “We’re excited that the CRTC has been asked to look again at this issue and we hope they’ll come back with a solution that will lift big telecom’s blockade and lead to lower prices and greater choice for Canadian consumers and small businesses,” said OpenMedia digital rights advocate Katy Anderson.
    ...
    OpenMedia spokeswoman Meghan Sali pointed to Toronto-based Tucows Inc., which operates Ting Mobile in the United States by piggybacking on carrier networks south of the border — but doesn’t offer services in Canada — as an example of a small wireless provider that could help transform Canada’s wireless landscape.

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

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

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    TNW Wireless also uses a similar access method (although they do own spectrum and towers in certain areas).

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    Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains takes aim at wireless affordability
    Globe and Mail, June 5
    Christine Dobby

    The minister’s move is one of the first indications that the Liberal government plans to push for lower telecom bills – at least for some consumers. The previous Conservative government made the issue of competition in the wireless sector a key focus and policy and tried to bring prices down by creating the conditions for new wireless carriers to compete with the Big Three.

    The current government has yet to take a similarly strong stand on telecom issues, but in a speech at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, Mr. Bains took a shot at high prices that keep low-income Canadians offline, calling the digital divide “unacceptable.



    Bains blows smoke, no fire on telecom affordability
    Peter Nowak, June 5

    If the CRTC upholds its decision, then cabinet will have to overturn it. But if cabinet does that, there is nothing holding Rogers’ feet to the fire. The company could simply cancel its agreement with Ice, or just not renew it when it expires, which would then mean that Ice customers could no longer roam outside their home turf.

    That’s where the fun could begin, because someone – whether it would be the government or CRTC – would have to step in. Ice customers losing service could finally be the catalyst for forced, mandated MVNOs in Canada. But that’s a big if and the whole scenario will likely take several years to play out.

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    This is the single biggest reason we don't have more competition in Canada.

    If the government mandated wireless wholesale rates, it would even allow carriers like Wind to instantly offer coverage in cities where they have no towers, and give them the ability to build on on top of the network they have.

    It would also allow smaller regional carriers to build out networks. In the US there are a lot of smaller regional carriers that have their own towers but because of the better wholesale rates, they can more easily piggyback onto the other networks.

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    Canadian Government on Wireless Services: High Prices, Low Adoption, and Unaffordable For Too Many
    Michael Geist, June 7
    ...
    This week, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains put the wireless market back in the spotlight with a speech that left little doubt that the Liberal government has reached the same conclusion as its predecessor, namely that the Canadian wireless market continues to be marked by insufficient competition leading to high prices, low adoption rates, and a lack of affordability for consumers with low household income.

    The government’s first step toward addressing the issue is an order-in-council requiring the CRTC to review a recent decision involving how regional and smaller wireless companies access wholesale roaming services from larger providers. While much of the attention has focused on the potential impact of varying that decision, the far more important takeaways come from the language found in the order, which presumably reflect the views of the government.

    The government leaves no doubt that it believes the current market offers too little choice, leading to high prices and low adoption rates for wireless services (particularly for low-income Canadians). The order states:

    Whereas Canadians continue to pay high rates for mobile wireless telecommunications services;

    Whereas Canada has among the lowest adoption rates for mobile wireless telecommunications services among industrialized countries;

    Whereas Canadians with low household income in particular face challenges related to the affordability of telecommunications services;

    The government not only makes its views on the state of the wireless market clear, it also points to its preferred solution: new competitors such as MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators. MVNOs offer the potential to bring new competitors in the market and while the CRTC stopped short of creating a regulatory framework to support their entry, the government clearly views it as part of the solution. The order also states:

    Whereas the Governor in Council recognizes that the Commission has previously determined that it would not be appropriate to mandate wireless carriers to provide Mobile Virtual Network Operators with wholesale access to their networks, as doing so could negatively impact investment in wireless network infrastructure;

    Whereas the Governor in Council considers that innovative business models and technological solutions can result in more meaningful choices for Canadian consumers, especially those with low incomes who are not well served by current market offerings

    The order asks the CRTC to reconsider whether the benefits of new, non-traditional service providers (including providers that emphasize WiFi connectivity) outweigh concerns with respect to network investment (which the government believes can be managed with appropriate regulatory conditions).

    The Bains speech... at its heart, it provides the foundation for future wireless policies. The Liberal government may have approved the Bell-MTS merger, but it has signalled that it recognizes that Canadians pay high prices for wireless services relative to other developed countries and that further regulatory measures are needed to foster a more competitive marketplace.
    The Bains speech sent other signals to the CRTC such as the need to ban phone unlock fees, but at its heart, it provides the foundation for future wireless policies. The Liberal government may have approved the Bell-MTS merger, but it has signalled that it recognizes that Canadians pay high prices for wireless services relative to other developed countries and that further regulatory measures are needed to foster a more competitive marketplace.

    --
    Order in Council referring TRP 2017-56 back to the CRTC

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    Of course they will push back. Fact of the matter is restricting the MVNOs through government regulation is why we have a monopoly and high prices. I would offer them the option of offering a competitive market for consumers with unlimited data options to more strongly reflect the shifting trend in the wireless industry, and if progress isn't shown in 1 year, I would force regulation of wholesale rates for MVNOs to come into play.

    The collusion needs to stop. We do have 3 big players, and if the 3 big players would actually compete with each other, we'd have a fantastic wireless market. But they are not, and therefore action needs to be taken.

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    From the first post in this thread.

    He also told press, however, that the government still recognizes the importance of a ‘facilities-based’ approach that favours operators that build infrastructure.

    “We do still support a facilities-based competition, I made that very clear as well, but at the same time as you know we have [high] price points for consumers in Canada and middle class Canadians are struggling, these are challenges they’re facing, particularly individuals with multiple cellphone bills, multiple wireless consumers in the household.”
    All the Wireless companies whether it be the Big 3 or regional carriers have internet, tv distribution and other services. And are well solid companies. Yet the government coddles them.

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    Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2017-259
    Reconsideration of Telecom Decision 2017-56 regarding final terms and conditions for wholesale mobile wireless roaming service

    Call for Comments

    Interventions submitted

    The Commission was directed to complete its reconsideration of Telecom Decision 2017-56 by no later than 31 March 2018.

    --
    Telecom Decision CRTC 2017-56
    Wholesale mobile wireless roaming service tariffs – Final terms and conditions

    Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-177
    Regulatory framework for wholesale mobile wireless services

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    Affordable option or investment killer? New types of mobile operators face scrutiny at CRTC
    Financial Post, Sep 18
    Emily Jackson

    The CRTC is reconsidering a decision that largely blocked the existence of Wi-Fi first providers and mobile virtual network operators

    Canada’s biggest wireless providers are fighting for the status quo in a process that could open up the market to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), smaller players conversely seen as affordable options or investment killers.

    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is reconsidering a decision that largely blocked the existence of Wi-Fi first providers and MVNOs, operators that don’t own radio spectrum and rely in part on wholesale access to existing networks for connectivity.

    The CRTC reckoned that mandated wholesale access could discourage network investment, but the federal government asked it to reconsider its decision in the name of making talk cheaper, particularly for low-income Canadians.

    The Big Three

    In submissions to the regulator this month, the Big Three providers Rogers Communications Inc., BCE Inc. and Telus Corp., all armed with expert reports, argued against mandated wholesale access to their wireless networks.

    They contended MVNOs reduce their incentive and ability to invest in wireless networks, which could hurt the rollout of a next generation 5G network. They also argued MVNOs, which only have incremental costs, would undermine the massive investments made by new entrants such as Shaw Communications Inc.’s Freedom Mobile and Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron.

    Plus, the Big Three argued that the Canadian wireless market is competitive and that service is actually relatively affordable.

    Basic service can be had for 0.5 per cent of a low-income person’s annual income, according to a report prepared for Bell by Ottawa consulting firm Wall Communications Inc. The report found that the lowest priced plans in Canada are middle of the range when compared to its G7 peers as a percentage of low income.

    Even if Ottawa stands by its conclusion that wireless prices aren’t affordable, the Big Three argued that MVNOs and Wi-Fi first providers aren’t the best way to increase affordability.

    Higher costs

    Bell blamed high smartphone prices for the higher cost of service, especially given the low Canadian dollar, and suggested extending wireless contracts to up to four years to reduce the upfront cost.

    Rogers recommended a voucher program in which low-income Canadians could apply for a voucher to reduce their wireless costs.
    Bell blamed high smartphone prices for the higher cost of service, especially given the low Canadian dollar, and suggested extending wireless contracts to up to four years to reduce the upfront cost.

    Rogers recommended a voucher program in which low-income Canadians could apply for a voucher to reduce their wireless costs.

    Consumer groups and wholesale providers came out in favour of MVNOs and Wi-Fi first providers as a way to make the national market more dynamic.

    Mobile services delivered by Wi-Fi are already available in many parts of the world, including from companies such as Google in the U.S., according to the submission from the Internet Society Canada Chapter.

    “By expanding the definition of home network to include Wi-Fi based MVNOs, the commission would pave the way for improvements in affordability for all Canadians,” it submitted.
    Mobile services delivered by Wi-Fi are already available in many parts of the world, including from companies such as Google in the U.S., according to the submission from the Internet Society Canada Chapter.

    “By expanding the definition of home network to include Wi-Fi based MVNOs, the commission would pave the way for improvements in affordability for all Canadians,” it submitted.

    The Public Interest Advocacy Centre agreed that consumer welfare gained by lower retail rates from MVNO entry would outweigh concerns about network investments.

    The Canadian Network Operators Consortium noted the national wireless players have 90 per cent of the market share and argued the market is getting more concentrated given Bell’s purchase of Manitoba Telecom Services. It argued that mandated MVNOs could increase choice and affordable options in the market.

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    Four year terms? Lol. Well, if having to compete with MVNOs forces Bell out of business, at least they have a career in comedy all lined up.

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    There’s a simple solution to outrageous wireless fees. Will the new CRTC chair have the guts to try it?
    Globe and Mail, Sep 28
    Globe Unlimited
    Rita Trichur
    ...
    But lately there have been tentative signs that Ottawa is warming to MVNOs. In June, the Liberal government asked the CRTC to review its March decision on roaming and MVNO access, citing the "high rates" Canadians pay for cellphone service.

    The Big Three telecoms will do everything they can to keep out competition, so wireless reselling will only work if the CRTC forces them to lease space on their networks to third parties at a reasonable price.
    ...
    While some might argue that it isn't fair to force major carriers to share their networks after they've spent billions building them, it's important to remember that the incumbents initially built their hugely profitable businesses using public property. In the 1980s and 1990s, Ottawa effectively gave away valuable spectrum to major carriers. And while carriers have paid some fees to maintain those licences, the airwaves remain the property of the Canadian public—the same people those carriers see fit to overcharge.

    European countries have already seen the benefits of the MVNO model over many years. In the United States, MVNO deals have allowed new players, such as cable company Comcast, to offer wireless services. Some Canadian telecoms, including Roam Mobility and Tucows Inc., have also secured MVNO deals with major U.S. carriers. Allowing more competition has helped improve service and produce lower prices.

    Why should the Canadian market be any different? Cogeco Communications has said it would become a wireless player if there were mandated access for MVNOs, and foreign carriers such as América Móvil and Orange have previously explored entering Canada via MVNOs. Consumers are frustrated, and the CRTC has until the end of March to wrap up its review. Let's hope the new chair is listening.
    Last edited by pjw918; 09-28-2017 at 03:57 PM.

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    ^The new chairman was a Former Executive of Telus from what I recall, He mostly likly is collecting a huge Telus pension plus a huge payout/buy out package which a lot of these executives get because it was part of there contract. So that means he is Part of the Cartel known as Robellus so I don't see any MVNO's coming to Canada

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