Five things to know about the CRTC's decision on wireless roaming rates

GATINEAU, Que. – The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is capping the wholesale roaming rates charged by Bell, Rogers and Telus to smaller carriers wanting to piggyback on their wireless networks.

Here are five things you need to know about the decision:

— The federal government already capped wholesale roaming rates as part of its budget implementation legislation in 2014, until the CRTC could study the issue and make a decision on future rates. The CRTC is now asking Ottawa to repeal that legislation.

— The CRTC said it’s making the move because there’s not enough competition among the big three players in Canada’s wireless industry. Officials said they expect the decision would result in greater competition.

— The decision could eventually mean lower roaming rates for customers of smaller, regional wireless carriers when they use their wireless devices outside the network area operated by their carrier. But that will depend on a number of factors, including the rates that are to be set in six months’ time, based on submissions by Bell, Rogers and Telus to the CRTC outlining their costs of providing service.

— Caps on wholesale roaming rates charged by the smaller carriers will remain in effect until the Harper government repeals legislation it passed in 2014. If the legislation is repealed, the CRTC said it expects market forces to determine pricing for the smaller carriers, which have already complained that they were being forced to provide Bell, Rogers and Telus access to their networks at below cost.

— During public hearings on Canada’s wholesale wireless services held last fall, the Competition Bureau predicted that expanded mobile wireless penetration in Canada could result in an overall two per cent reduction in the cost of retail wireless services.