has lost a fight to have the telecommunications regulator order Rogers Communications Inc. to enable seamless roaming
for subscribers when they move across coverage areas.
In addition, the commission noted, the roaming agreement between Rogers and Wind doesn’t require seamless roaming of live calls.
Since there is insufficient evidence the commission said it wasn’t necessary to decide if Rogers
gives its subscribers preferential treatment.
In addition, the commission said it would be inappropriate to order incumbent carriers to institute seamless roaming.
Wind’s appeal to the commission was supported by fellow startup Mobilicity.
Wind’s main argument was that Rogers advertises its low-cost Chatr brand as offering “fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers” based in part on “seamless call transition when moving out of zone.”
replied that as a company brand, Chatr subscribers don’t roam onto the Rogers
network – they’re on it all the time.
In a written rebuttal to the Wind complaint, Rogers also argued that seamless roaming, also called a soft handoff, is uncommon among carriers around the world. During a press conference Thursday at the Canadian Telecom Summit, Bell Canada CEO George Cope said the same thing. "No one in the world has soft handoff for roaming. Nobody."
In an interview Friday, Wind chairman Anthony Lacavera said his company will take its case to Industry Minister Christian Paradis and eventually go back to the CRTC.
"We disagree with the decision and we will continue to fight incumbent anti-competitive practices through every avenue available to us."
However, in an interview Ken Engelhart, Rogers' senior vice-president of regulatory affairs, noted that several years ago Industry Canada rejected the opportunity to mandate carriers to offer seamless roaming when it was setting the licencing obligations for incumbents in 2008 in their dealings with new carriers like Wind and Mobilicity. That means it's a negotiable issue with the competitors. Meanwhile, Industry Canada is looking at the issue again as a prelude to the next spectrum auction.
"We have said this is an Industry Canada issue all along," Englehart added. "They felt that seamless handoff was not appropriate [to mandate]. And although the CRTC said it has jurisdiction, I think the fact that Industry Canada said seamless was not required was a main reason why it found there was not undue preference."
No government in the world mandates seamless roaming, he added. While Wind may believe it is common, in its written submission to the commission the startup didn't name one, Engelhart said. "If there was such a thing as seamless handoff for Wind in Italy, you can bet your boots they would have mentioned that." Wind Italy is owned by the Canadian company's Austrian-based partner, VimpelCom.