The federal telecommunications regulator has refused to change its decision that Rogers Communications Inc. is unlawfully denying Wind Mobile’s customers the ability to seamlessly roam across its network.
After the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruled against Wind last June, the startup urged the regulator to take a second look at the decision. It was backed by the Consumers Association of Canada.
But on Thursday the CRTC said neither party had given it any reason to doubt the soundness of its decision.
With the ruling Wind can only hope that Industry Canada will come to its rescue in its review of roaming conditions as part of the rules for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction.
To ensure that new wireless carriers like Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile could effectively compete against incumbent operators, the government ordered incumbent carriers like Rogers . [TSX: RCI.A] to allow competitors to roam on their networks.
Roaming is essential for the young startups, whose coverage areas in their first years will be small.
However, startups complain that what they can’t get is the ability for their subscribers to continue a live call when they cross into a competitor’s coverage area. Instead the call is dropped. The subscriber can re-dial and continue the call on the other carrier’s network, but there’s an interruption in the link.
Wind insists it needs seamless roaming onto the Rogers network, the same right that Rogers’ Chatr subscribers have. Wind uses Chatr for comparison because it says that service competes against the startups. It also argues that seamless roaming is mandated by regulators in other countries.
But the CRTC said Wednesday it hasn’t been given any evidence that any other jurisdiction has mandated seamless call transition.
It also dismissed Wind’s claim that new principles have arisen since the commission’s decision last year. “Since the Commission has determined that there has been no preference, advantage or discrimination, the Commission concludes that WIND’s claims have no merit.”
Finally, the commission also dismissed calls by Wind and the CAC for a full hearing to examine roaming rates and rules.
Wind CEO Anthony Lacavera wasn’t happy. “You win some, you lose some,” he said. But, he added, “It surprises me (the commission) continue to miss the reality that we’re not on a level playing field” with incumbent carriers. “We felt this was a clear example of discrimination. The Competition Bureau obviously has taken action against Rogers for their action with Chatr.” That’s a reference to a 2010 ruling against Rogers on Chatr advertising.