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CRTC decision on roaming access echoes Bates White conclusion
In 2017, Shaw Communications retained Bates White to analyze the Canadian wireless market in the context of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) call for comments on its regulation of wholesale mobile wireless roaming. This regulation concerns the conditions under which mobile network operators must offer wireless roaming to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). Bates White examined the likely impact of mandated MVNO roaming on the Canadian wireless market—in particular, whether this kind of mandated roaming would increase competition by facilitating new business models (such as partial WiFi access) or would undercut existing facilities-based competition by diminishing investment incentives, particularly of smaller facilities-based carriers. Bates White submitted three expert reports that highlighted the critical importance of increased facilities-based competition for pro-consumer outcomes in wireless and showed how the type of mandated roaming the CRTC was considering risked undercutting competition rather than promoting it.
In late March, CRTC released its decision, which came to the same conclusion as Bates White: that mandating roaming access for MVNOs risked undercutting the benefits of facilities-based competition for Canadian consumers.