Saskatchewan could see more mobile wireless competition following CRTC ruling

Large wireless providers such as SaskTel have been ordered by the CRTC to negotiate with smaller cellphone companies to support access to their respective cellular networks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

An announcement made earlier this week by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) looks to create more competition and choice for Saskatchewan wireless customers in the future.

The CRTC shared on Wednesday that it is implementing measures to increase competition in new areas while regional wireless providers build out their networks.

This means that companies including Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, Telus and SaskTel will need to negotiate with small mobile virtual network operators (MNVOs) to support access to their respective cellular networks to regional wireless carriers.

Effective immediately, these large wireless providers must begin accepting requests for access to their networks.

According to the CRTC, an MVNO is a company that uses networks of another Canadian wireless service provider to offer competitive services and greater choice to more Canadians.

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“We are one step closer to implementing our policy that will enable regional providers to offer wireless services in areas where competition is limited. This will help provide more affordable options to millions of Canadians while increasing competition,” stated Ian Scott, CRTC chairperson and chief executive officer.

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“We expect the large providers to negotiate in good faith and come to an agreement as quickly as possible with regional wireless providers.”

The CRTC says wholesale rates must be negotiated between the providers.

The commission adds they are “opening the door for more companies, in particular smaller regional wireless providers in more rural areas.”

In an emailed response on Friday, SaskTel says it’s paying close attention to this development.

“We are aware of the announcement the CRTC made this week regarding mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and are in the process of evaluating what impacts it may have on our operations. Regardless, SaskTel remains committed to providing our customers with the reliable and high-quality communications services they have come to expect from us,” stated SaskTel in its response.

The CRTC says it will also ensure calls and data sessions of MVNO subscribers do not drop when they move between coverage zones and ensure MNVO access is offered on current and future wireless networks, such as 5G.

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In 2021, a policy was set to better enable MNVOs to be launched in the Canadian market.

This service will be mandated by the CRTC for seven years, providing regional companies time to build and expand their wireless networks.

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