Regulators in Canada Confirm Discrimination in Wholesale Data Roaming

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a Decision (Decision) finding that “there were clear instances of unjust discrimination and undue preference” by Canada’s largest nationwide wireless carrier, Rogers, with respect to “the wholesale mobile wireless roaming rates” that it charged smaller carriers.  For the past year, the CRTC has investigated the Canadian wholesale roaming marketplace in an effort to “assess… the competitiveness of the Canadian wireless industry and the choices available to Canadians.” As part of that investigatory process, CRTC staff “requested information on roaming services from certain Canadian mobile wireless carriers, including copies of their wholesale roaming arrangements with other Canadian and U.S.-based carriers.” Through its investigation, the CRTC has found that “some Canadian mobile wireless carriers were charging or proposing to charge significantly higher rates for wholesale mobile wireless roaming services to other Canadian mobile wireless carriers than to U.S.-based carriers.” The charging of higher rates was particularly true with respect to data services.

On June 19, 2014, Canada implemented a new national law that effectively caps inter-carrier, wholesale voice and data roaming rates and prevents carriers from charging a rate that exceeds what retail consumers pay for the same service.  The CRTC Decision also banned exclusive wireless roaming deals in Canada after finding that Rogers included unfair clauses in some of their domestic roaming agreements that hiked the cost of doing business for new telecom entrants, which in turn led to higher prices and worse service for consumers.  Here in the U.S., the FCC is currently fielding comments in response to a petition filed by T-Mobile which asserts that “must have” roaming providers like AT&T charge wholesale roaming rates for data services that are commercially unreasonable and in contravention to existing FCC regulations.

For additional information, please contact Daryl Zakov.

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