Bell and Québecor spar over MVNO access service agreements

Bell has accused Québecor of refusing to enter into necessary mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) access agreements.

This comes a month after Québecor accused Bell, in a Part 1 application to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), of undue delays in granting access to its network for the launch of its MVNO service.

The CRTC set out an initial policy in 2021, allowing regional cell phone providers to compete as MVNOs across Canada. Under this policy, large cell phone companies must share their networks with competitors who are able to serve in areas that incumbent carriers do not operate.

The Commission then established a deadline for regional providers to negotiate MVNO access agreements with incumbent carriers. If they cannot come to an agreement, they can ask the CRTC to set the rate through a process known as final offer arbitration (FOA), wherein each company submits its proposed rate.

Québecor and Bell entered into FOA last year and, in October, the CRTC ended up siding with Bell for Québecor’s access to its wireless network,

Right after that, Québecor announced the launch date of Oct. 11 for its MVNO service, which it said Bell did not honour. Consequently, Québecor asked the CRTC to apply the rate retroactively to that date and impose a monetary penalty on Bell for the alleged inappropriate and anti-competitive delays.

Bell, instead contends that Québecor has refused to enter into the MVNO access service agreement that would then establish the start date for the launch of the service.

“Bell has consistently acted expeditiously and in accordance with its tariffs; Québecor is simply asking the Commission to grant it an unjustified windfall payment from Bell,” the company said in a reply to Québecor’s Part 1 application.

The telco added, “Québecor’s true motivation in its application has nothing to do with the launch of its MVNO service to consumers or with the contents of Bell’s proposed MVNO access agreement. It is simply to extract a windfall retroactive payment from Bell (and Telus) for its roaming usage on Bell and Telus’ networks.”

MVNO and roaming are two different services, and granting Québecor’s request would be imposing a roaming rate that was not determined in accordance with the Roaming Tariff or the Roaming Agreement, Bell argued.

Bell also noted that Québecor services had already launched on existing roaming agreements with Bell following the CRTC’s FOA decision in October.

Telus, which also provides MVNO service to regional carriers in its network area via an agreement with Bell, also intervened in the dispute between the two companies, asking the CRTC to deny Québecor’s retroactive rate adjustment request.

“Regardless of the existence of any Bell/Québecor MVNO service agreement, the Commission cannot force Telus to charge rates other than the domestic roaming rates for traffic,” affirmed Telus.

Québecor has until tomorrow to file its reply to Bell’s allegations.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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