by Tim Ferguson
Canadian number-four operator Wind Mobile announced that its services now reach 97 per cent of the country’s population owing to a roaming partnership with one of the ‘big three’ operators.
Although the roaming partner wasn’t named by Wind, Reuters suggested that the fact that British Columbia will see coverage improve noticeably means Telus is the most likely candidate.
The roaming agreement comes after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in July banned exclusivity on roaming agreements to “further enhance sustainable completion in the wireless market.”
The ruling stemmed from the CRTC finding “clear instances of unjust discrimination” by market leader Rogers Communications, which had used exclusivity clauses to prevent smaller players using networks from other carriers, and charged “significantly higher roaming rates compared to rates for other wireless service providers”.
Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC chairman, said the decision “will help promote fairness and a better consumer experience with wireless for Canadians”.
A Telus representative told Reuters that the ruling “opened the doors to new discussions, and we have since sat down and finalised roaming agreements with some new carriers”. He did not state whether one of those new carriers was Wind.
Telus is the third largest of the big three operators, behind Rogers Wireless and Bell (BCE). The three players accounted for 28.7 million connections at the end of the third quarter, according to GSMA Intelligence. This gave the three companies a market share of 89 per cent.
Wind Mobile, which is one of the lower-tier operators attempting to compete with the leading players, had just 778,000 connections.
The Canadian government has been making attempts to improve competition in the communications market for some time.
However, the backers of another new entrant, Mobilicity, recently took action against the country’s government, on the ground that pledges to help the new players compete more efficiently had not been met.