In addition, the commission noted, the roaming agreement between Rogers and Wind doesn’t require seamless roaming of live calls.
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.”
“I am surprised to hear that Mr. Cope is of the view that no one in the world has seamless handoff with roaming,” Lacavera replied in an email.
He cited a few. “For example, in the U.S., T-Mobile has seamless handover with Commnet Wireless and Iowa Wireless. And T-Mobile had seamless handoff with Microcell before Microcell was acquired by Rogers.”
Other countries where seamless roaming occurs, he said, include the UK (between Orange and T-Mobile), Spain (Orange with Telefonica Spain and Vodafone Spain), Ireland (3 Ireland with Vodafone), India (BSNL, IDEA, TATADocomo, Airtel, and Vodafone) and Croatia (between Tele2 and T-Mobile).”
Last October, Wind Mobile’s parent, Globalive Wireless Management Corp., demanded the CRTC order Rogers to give Wind subscribers the same seamless roaming rights customers of Rogers’ new Chatr service have. Rogers has conferred on itself an “undue preference” under the Telecommunications Act, Globalive alleged. Mobilicity, which also has a roaming deal with Rogers, also complained about the refusal to grant seamless roaming.
Inter-carrier roaming is vital for the startups, who, with less than two years of operation have small networks. Without it their subscribers are limited to their coverage area, while incumbents’ subscribers can roam across the country.
To protect the young companies, Industry Canada requires incumbents to negotiate deals when requested with a new entrant allowing subscribers to roam on the broader networks.
The startups have indeed negotiated roaming rights – in Wind’s case, with Rogers. But Globalive complains that what Wind subscribers don’t get is immediate, seamless handoffs to another network when they leave Wind’s coverage when they’re in the middle of a call. Instead, Rogers’ network drops the calls. Wind subscribers have to re-dial to get service. The industy sometimes call this a hard hand-off.
Globalive told the commission that “not being to offer seamless handoffs … has contributed significantly to a decrease in new Wind activations and harm to the positioning of Wind’s brand on the key metric of network reliability.” Meanwhile Rogers is advertising that Chatr offered “fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers.”
The result, Globalive says, is that Rogers has created the impression that the networks of startups is less reliable than is true.