Canadian Government Wants To Restrict Access To Non-Tower Owning Small Carriers

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The Canadian government is challenging the country’s telecom titans over prices, reports Bloomberg. Internet and cell services aren’t readily available for many rural and low-income residents, and prices are higher than in other developed countries. Costs for wireless services, especially cell service, are generally higher in Canada than Europe and the U.S. due to Canada’s small population spread over a larger area. This requires a larger and more expensive infrastructure investment to maintain network quality.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains spoke at the Canadian Telecom Summit on Monday noting, “Access isn’t the only challenge, the bigger barrier is price. The digital divide is unacceptable.”

According to Bloomberg, Bain is requiring Canada’s telecom regulator to review its recent decision allowing wireless network owners to restrict access to smaller providers who don’t own their own towers. This aims to prevent companies like Sugar Wireless, who uses WiFi service to keep its users connected and pays a roaming fee to other networks when WiFi isn’t available, from being shut out by the decision.

Justin Trudeau’s election initially offered a sense of relief to the country’s telecom companies, which had battled the Conservatives’ attempts to force more competition by propping up smaller players. Yet, the Canadian telecom market is still dominated by three players, Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corp. and BCE Inc., owning more than 90 percent of the wireless market and controlling both the television and internet service across the country.

June 7, 2017       

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