CRTC denies appeal to force big telcos to give access to their wireless networks

TORONTO – Canada’s broadcast regulator has denied an appeal by small Internet providers to require major telecommunications companies to provide access to their wireless networks.

The Canadian Network Operators Consortium filed a request that the CRTC “review and vary” its May decision that it would not mandate access to wireless networks to allow third-party companies to resell wireless services.

The group, which represents dozens of small Internet service providers including TekSavvy and Distributel, wanted the access so they could offer their own wireless services using the networks of Bell, Telus and Rogers.

The consortium argued that it wants the CRTC to open up wireless networks to those who do not own towers or spectrum in order to operate as so-called mobile virtual network operators.

Bell, Telus and Rogers had argued that the case for building new infrastructure would be undermined if third-party carriers could piggyback on the bigger networks without building any towers of their own.

In its ruling, the CRTC concluded it did not err in law in its previous decision.

Consumer advocacy group OpenMedia, which supported the consortium’s appeal, expressed disappointment with Thursday’s ruling. It said in a statement that the decision allows major telecoms to block mobile virtual network operators with more affordable rates from the Canadian market.

“In effect, this amounts to a licence for price-gouging, as our telecom giants can continue to block new providers and charge Canadians exorbitant prices,” said the group’s campaign director, Josh Tabish. He also called on federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to intervene.