The CRTC completed a key step to create more competition and choice in the mobile wireless market for Canadians. The CRTC has made decisions on the terms and conditions of the service that will support the deployment of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), enhancing the ability of regional wireless providers to offer more competition and choice to Canadians.
The CRTC is implementing measures to accelerate competition in new areas while regional wireless providers build out their networks. These measures will govern the relationships between the regional providers and Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, Telus and SaskTel.
Among other things, the CRTC is:
- opening the door for more companies, in particular smaller regional wireless providers in more rural areas, to provide greater competition and choice to more Canadians by accessing the wireless networks of Canada’s largest providers
- ensuring that the calls and data sessions of MVNO subscribers do not drop when they move between coverage zones
- ensuring that MVNO access is offered on current and future wireless networks, including 5G,
- denying several provisions that would make the MVNO access service more restrictive or difficult to use by regional wireless providers, and
- preventing any provisions that would restrict regional providers from reselling their wholesale access to other MVNOs.
The large wireless providers must now begin accepting requests for access to their networks and enter negotiations with regional wireless providers to agree on wholesale MVNO rates.
“We are one step closer to implementing our policy that will enable regional providers to offer wireless services in areas where competition is limited. This will help provide more affordable options to millions of Canadians while increasing competition. We expect the large providers to negotiate in good faith and come to an agreement as quickly as possible with regional wireless providers.” – Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC
- In 2021, the CRTC established a policy to better enable MVNOs to be launched in the Canadian market. An MVNO is a company that uses the networks of another Canadian wireless service provider to offer competitive services and greater choice to more Canadians.
- The three national wireless providers – Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus – and SaskTel in Saskatchewan will be required to provide access to their respective networks to regional wireless carriers. The purpose of the policy is to enable regional competitors to use the networks of the incumbents to provide greater while they build out their own networks.
- Although retail prices for mobile services in Canada are generally going down, a CRTC review found that competition remains limited and that new providers trying to enter the market face barriers in launching services.
- The CRTC has made decisions on the terms and conditions that will govern the MVNO access service made available to regional wireless providers by Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus, as well as SaskTel. Wholesale rates must be negotiated between the providers.
- This service will be mandated by the CRTC for seven years, which will give the regional providers time to build and expand their wireless networks.
- Rates for MVNO access are to be commercially negotiated, but the CRTC will act as an arbitrator if necessary.
- Prices for mobile wireless services have been coming down in recent years. For instance, the average monthly cost of a 5GB mobile package dropped by 11% between 2016 and 2021, according to the CRTC’s Communications Market Reports.