February 19, 2016 2:34 pm

CRTC denies appeal to force big telcos to give 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.

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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.

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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.

MORE: What’s the best, cheapest cellphone plan in Canada? 

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.

But consumer groups say the move would have helped lower Canadian cellphone bills by adding extra competition to the market.

According to a 2015 report from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Canadian’s pay nearly double the $25 average monthly cellphone bill among 22 developed countries. And, thanks to our falling loonie, those prices are only increasing.

In January, Rogers, Telus and Bell implemented a price hike of $5 more a month for new and renewing contract subscribers because of the falling loonie, which the three claim has inflated costs.

The average monthly bill for a Rogers customer is around $60, an amount similar to what Bell and Telus collect each month from their subscribers. A customer whose bill comes in around that sum can expect to pay 8.3 per cent more per month — the equivalent of another $60 payment to Rogers annually.

Plus, device manufacturers are hiking prices on smartphones too because of the lower currency.

With files from Global News reporter Jamie Sturgeon

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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