Canada’s largest telecommunications companies are asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to not forcibly extend the 2021 MVNO framework to the enterprise, IoT (Internet of Things), and M2M (machine to machine) market segments.
This comes after the Commission initiated a proceeding on Mar. 1 to assess whether mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) should be able to leverage Rogers, Bell, Telus and SaskTel’s (“the incumbents”) wireless networks to serve those other markets.
CRTC held the preliminary view that the IoT/M2M market segments closely resemble the rest of the consumer retail markets that are currently regulated under the MVNO framework.
Bell rejected the Commission’s proposition, arguing that enterprise, IoT and M2M services are not excluded from that regulatory regime, they simply are part of a different product market.
Rogers, along with Telus and SaskTel, backed that view, adding that these market segments are already competitive and that it does not have market power – alone or with the other carriers – in these markets.
“If the market is competitive, then regulatory intervention is neither required nor appropriate,” Bell’s intervention read. “In that case, it is not the Commission’s role to nevertheless introduce distortive regulation in an effort to eliminate competitive differentiation among participants or potential participants in a market or to artificially support some competitors at the expense of others.”
Telus and Bell also noted that the CRTC has not taken into account the expansion of Videotron as a result of its acquisition of Freedom Mobile, which could give the Quebec-based carrier the “ability to offer new incentives to businesses that operate nationally,” as the Competition Tribunal argued in its examination of the Rogers-Shaw merger.
“Simply put, Videotron no longer requires the Commission’s assistance, if it ever did, to effectively serve enterprise wireless and IoT/M2M customers,” Bell noted.
Unsurprisingly, Quebecor supported the inclusion of these market segments under the MVNO regime.
Further, SaskTel contended that the MVNO regime is not yet operative in Canada and that the Commission should first test the effectiveness of the framework before implementing any changes.
Accordingly, the incumbents have filed their tariffs based on the terms and conditions set out by the CRTC in 2022, to ensure that the wholesale MVNO access service is as effective as possible.
Ecotel, which supported the CRTC’s preliminary view, stated that the Commission “must find a way to streamline the process and make Incumbents provide answers in a timelier manner. Such delays have important impacts on businesses, innovation, and at the end, on customers.”
Cogeco, which is planning to enter the wireless business via the MVNO model, acknowledged the concerns of the CRTC that excluding IoT/M2M market segments from the MVNO access framework would unjustly discriminate against emergent MVNOs and confer an undue disadvantage on retail customers.
Transatel, the Competitive Network Operators of Canada (CNOC), Independent Telecommunications Providers Association, and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, among others, also supported the CRTC’s preliminary view.