Canadian Telecom Regulator Ponders Application of Wireless Roaming Caps

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By Peter Menyasz

May 13 — Canada's telecommunications regulator on May 12 issued a call for comments on how legislated caps on wholesale prices for domestic wireless roaming services should be interpreted and implemented.

The proceeding, through written submissions, follows a fact-finding exercise on implementation of the price caps in which the main incumbent and competitor firms submitted in confidence what they considered to be the caps that apply to them for 2014, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-186.

“Based on a review and assessment of the responses provided by all parties during the fact-finding exercise, the Commission notes that wireless carriers are not interpreting and applying the wholesale roaming caps regime consistently,” the regulator said.

An amendment to the Telecommunications Act passed on June 19, 2014, it noted, established caps on domestic wholesale mobile wireless roaming rates—establishing the maximum amount a Canadian carrier can charge a second Canadian carrier for transmission of domestic wireless voice calls, text messages and data.

The applicable wholesale roaming caps for a given year are determined through a formula based on a carrier's retail revenues from the provision of each type of service—voice, text and data—in the previous year, divided by the total traffic in each wireless service, it said.

Although the commission on May 5 recommended in Telecom Regulatory Policy 2015-177 that the federal cabinet repeal the provisions establishing the roaming caps to allow for a return to market forces as soon as possible, it is currently still responsible for administering the wholesale roaming caps regime until it is eliminated.

The call for comments seeks input from wireless carriers on issues including the approaches to be used in allocating revenues from bundled wireless services among voice, text and data to calculate the total retail revenues from each service, what constitutes “total retail revenue from the provision of wireless services,” whether the roaming caps regime should distinguish between airtime rates and long distance rates and whether the roaming caps calculated by providers should be made public.

Written interventions are to be filed by June 9, with replies to the interventions due by June 19, and the CRTC committed to publishing a decision within four months of closing the record of the proceeding.

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