OTTAWA Jan 29 Canada's competition watchdog
urged the country's telecoms regulator on Wednesday to get tough
on big wireless companies that charge high roaming rates for
smaller rivals struggling to get a toehold in the domestic
The Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement
agency, submitted its views to the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is studying whether
there are unfair practices in wholesale mobile wireless roaming
arrangement in Canada.
"The Bureau believes that Canada's largest wireless
companies have an incentive to use high mobile wireless roaming
rates to ensure that new entrants are not, and do not become,
fully effective competitors," it said in a statement.
"As a result, new entrants are likely limited in their
ability to bring attractive product offerings to market,
resulting in reduced product choice, higher prices for consumers
and/or less innovation in Canadian mobile wireless markets," it
The bureau said it was "necessary and appropriate" for CRTC
to intervene with regulatory safeguards against high rates
charged by the three national carriers, Rogers Communications
Inc, BCE Inc and Telus Corp.
Newcomers to the Canadian wireless market don't have a lot
of spectrum or wide-scale networks, so they must enter into
agreements with the established service providers.
The Competition Bureau did not propose specific measures,
but its view is similar to those of the Conservative government.
Industry Minister James Moore is set to introduce legislation
this spring that would force the Big Three to charge their
competitors no more than the rate they charge their own retail
The government's rules, which it says aim on boosting
competition and lowering prices for consumers, would remain in
place until CRTC decides whether to limit roaming rates.
Small players have so far found it hard to survive in
Canada. One of them, Public Mobile, was acquired by Telus, and
another, Mobilicity, is under creditor protection as it seeks a
Earlier this month, Globalive's Wind Mobile withdrew from a
major Canadian auction of wireless spectrum, saying its main
backer, Europe's Vimpelcom Ltd, decided not to fund its
Rogers has said its domestic roaming agreements with rivals
are based on negotiated rates and that new entrants have not
made use of a dispute arbitration process.