04.16.21 / news

Sugar Mobile Disappointed; CRTC is Again Putting Big Telco & Cable Ahead of Consumers

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TORONTO – April 15, 2021 – Sugar Mobile – long blocked from offering affordable wireless services to consumers – is disheartened with the federal regulator’s decision to side with Big Telco and regional cable players ahead of promoting competition, affordability, consumer interests, and innovation.

“Canadians are paying some of the highest wireless rates in the world,” says Samer Bishay, President and CEO of Sugar Mobile. “The proposed takeover of Shaw by Rogers will only make things worse and the CRTC explicitly stated today that they did not take into account the Rogers/Shaw merger in this decision because it was announced after the record closed on the MVNO proceeding. Today’s CRTC decision provides little, if any, relief for wireless customers. Indeed, the decision is based on facts that are already obsolete because they don't take the Rogers/Shaw merger into account.”

The CRTC – Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission – has effectively banned Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Canada unless they invest in network infrastructure and spectrum, which is counter to the notion of a “virtual” network operator. MVNOs have long been a staple for healthy wireless competition in the United States and other wireless markets around the world.

“This decision is really an anti-MVNO decision. It provides access to regional wireless players like cable companies Videotron, Cogeco and EastLink, and Ice Wireless in Canada’s Far North, to roam on Bell, Telus and Rogers for seven years while they build duplicate wireless networks,” Mr. Bishay says. “The concept of MVNO and true consumer choice and fair pricing has been squashed in Canada.”

Sugar Mobile, an MVNO owned by Iristel Inc., a Canadian facilities-based network operator, spurred this regulatory battle after launching a consumer-friendly $19-a-month wireless voice-and-data service in 2015, only to be shut down several months later by the CRTC at the behest of Rogers, Bell and Telus. The federal government then asked the CRTC to take another look at the wireless industry and its regulations.

“This decision will stifle innovation and competition in Canada,” Mr. Bishay says. “In markets all over the world, we’ve seen MVNOs stimulate competition and choice for consumers without damaging incumbent phone companies. Indeed, many incumbents experience growth as their network usage becomes optimized.”

In its news release, the CRTC “puts measures in place to spur more mobile wireless competition for Canadians” and its decision will offer “Canadians more choice and affordable options”, but the devil is in the details, not how the story is spun, Mr. Bishay adds. 

“For whatever reason, the CRTC is hanging its hat on regional players – cable companies – to provide meaningful wireless competition, and banning real MVNOs which have brought actual and sustainable wireless competition to other countries,” Mr. Bishay says.

“Talk is cheap – unless it’s on a Bell, Telus or Rogers wireless phone,” he says. “It looks like it will be the same on other cable companies’ wireless phones, too.” 


For more information: 

Sugar Mobile Media Relations
416.800.0010
pr@iristel.com

 


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