CRTC allows a second round of interventions on Wi-Fi-first MVNOs
Canada’s telecom regulator has allowed for a second round of submissions on the subject of Wi-Fi-first mobile virtual network operators (MVNO). All stakeholders interested in submitting second-round interventions can now do so by October 27th, 2017. Final submissions will then be taken until December 1st, 2017. The CRTC made the change following a request by Ice Wireless that was supported by a number of other organizations, including advocacy group OpenMedia. Ice Wireless — which is a sibling brand to the Wi-Fi-first MVNO that prompted this discussion — argued that some other parties filed expert evidence in their initial interventions and that other parties should be provided with an opportunity to file rebuttal evidence and arguments, prior to final submissions. Though Bell and Shaw disagreed with the idea, stating that all parties should’ve been expected to file the best available evidence supporting their positions in the first round, the CRTC came to the conclusion that it was “in the public interest to ensure that a fulsome record is developed,” and thus allowed for the second period of interventions. The interventions come as part of the reconsideration of a decision made in early 2017 that has the potential to effectively mandate Wi-Fi-first MVNOs. The CRTC is inviting interested parties to weigh in on what constitutes a ‘home network’ for the purposes of this decision, and specifically whether Wi-Fi could be included in the definition of a home network. If Wi-Fi is eventually included in the definition — which runs counter to current policy promoting investment in facilities — the result might be the opening of an entirely new Wi-Fi-first MVNO market in Canada. As it stands, the March decision (Telecom Decision 2017-56) sews up a loophole that allowed Wi-Fi-first MVNO Sugar Mobile to operate in all areas of the country. The order to reconsider the decision came in early June, courtesy of Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Navdeep Bains. The CRTC has been directed to complete its reconsideration by no later than March 31st, 2018.