CRTC launches review of mobile wireless market

The CRTC is launching a review of the mobile wireless market to determine whether further action is required to improve choice and affordability for Canadians.

As part of that review, the commission issued a call for comments Thursday afternoon on its “preliminary view” that mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) should have mandated access to the networks of the national wireless providers (Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus) until they are able to establish themselves in the market.

That stand is a departure from the CRTC’s long held position that MVNOs shouldn’t have mandated access, and comes just days after Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Min. Navdeep Bains proposed a change of course for the commission, asserting that the regulator should put the interests of Canadian consumers and competition first.

“While the wireless industry has grown and evolved over the last few years, progress has been slow in certain areas. We are concerned as to whether the needs of Canadians are being fully met. We want to ensure that all Canadians benefit from a robust and competitive mobile wireless market that provides a choice of affordable and innovative services,” Ian Scott, CRTC chair, said in a press release.

The review will also look ahead to the future of mobile wireless services in Canada and, in particular, at whether regulatory measures are needed to facilitate the deployment of 5G network infrastructure.

The Telecom Notice of Consultation notes that in order to begin introducing 5G tech, wireless carriers will be required to make significant investments in network infrastructure, and negotiate with a variety of stakeholders to secure adequate access to fibre facilities, rights of way, and small-cell sites.

“It is therefore important to assess whether there are barriers to the introduction of new technologies by carriers, and the extent to which regulatory intervention by the Commission may be required to support investment and competition in the evolving marketplace,” states the document.

Canadians are invited to share their views by May 15. The CRTC will hold a public hearing starting on Jan. 13, 2020, in the National Capital Region as part of the review.