CRTC launches wholesale mobile sector review

Telnet Networks- Managing Network PerformancdeThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has launched a public consultation to review whether the wholesale mobile wireless services market is sufficiently competitive, and the prospects for competition in the future. The CRTC is inviting comments on:

  • the state of the market for wholesale mobile wireless services, including wholesale roaming and wholesale tower sharing in Canada;
  • the impact that the wholesale mobile wireless services market has on the retail market; and
  • whether greater regulatory oversight would be appropriate if it were to find that the wholesale mobile wireless services market is not sufficiently competitive.

Comments may be submitted until 1 May 2014. The CRTC will also hold a public hearing beginning on 29 September 2014.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

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700MHz auction on 19 November; government consults on spectrum transfers, amends tower sharing rules, updates spectrum policy

Industry Canada has released its final timetable for the auction of the digital dividend 700MHz 4G mobile broadband spectrum band in November this year. The ministry’s ‘Licensing Framework for Mobile Broadband Services (MBS) — 700 MHz Band’ set the timetable as follows:

-Deadline for receipt of clarification questions, 27 March 2013.

-Publication of responses to clarification questions, 20 May 2013.

-Deadline for receipt of applications, 11 June.

-Publication of the list of applicants, 18 June.

-Publication of the list of provisionally qualified bidders, 26 July.

-Publication of final list of qualified bidders, 23 September.

-Opening of bidding, 19 November 2013.

-Announcement of provisional licence winners, within five business days following cessation of bidding.

As previously announced, Canada will award 700MHz mobile licences split into 14 geographical areas, each zone offering five blocks of paired spectrum and two blocks of unpaired spectrum, making a total of 98 licences on offer. A spectrum cap of two paired frequency blocks will apply to all licensees in each of the 14 zones, therefore allowing scope for new or less established entrants in the mobile market; the unpaired blocks will not be subject to a spectrum cap. Furthermore, a spectrum cap of one paired spectrum block from within certain blocks – B, C, C1 and C2 – will apply to all large wireless service providers – i.e. the nationwide operators Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Alongside the timetable, Industry Canada yesterday released the ‘Revised Frameworks for Mandatory Roaming and Antenna Tower and Site Sharing’, including conditions of licensing to prohibit exclusive site arrangements, which expand requirements to offer roaming to all licensees while encouraging more tower sharing. The measure is aimed at accelerating 4G mobile broadband expansion following the digital dividend auction.

In another move to ramp up 4G competition in all areas and facilitate widespread mobile broadband service rollouts, the ministry simultaneously launched a public consultation on ‘Considerations Relating to Transfers, Divisions and Subordinate Licensing of Spectrum Licences’, which is aimed at reviewing existing rules on spectrum transfers. Responses are due by 3 May 2013.

Christian Paradis, Canadian minister of industry – with ultimate responsibility for managing the use of spectrum in accordance with the provisions of the Radiocommunication Act as set out in the 2007 Spectrum Policy Framework – also presented the government’s new ‘Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook’. The purpose of the document is to provide stakeholders with an overview of Industry Canada’s overall approach and planned activities in order to ensure additional spectrum resources are available to help meet demand for commercial mobile services over the next five years. The Outlook will be updated again following the auction of spectrum in the 700MHz and subsequently the 2500MHz band as well as after the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference is held.

According to the Outlook, projections estimate that Canada will require at least 473MHz and as much as 820MHz of spectrum to be allocated to commercial mobile services by 2017. Based on these projections, Industry Canada has set an objective of allocating a total of 750MHz of spectrum to commercial mobile services by the end of 2017. Taking into account the already-announced auctions (including 700MHz and 2500MHz bands), Canada currently has plans in place to have a total of 528MHz of spectrum available for commercial mobile services. This means that an additional 222MHz of spectrum will have to be allocated to commercial mobile services over the next five years in order to meet this objective.

Taking into account action being taken by countries around the globe to identify additional spectrum for mobile, Industry Canada has identified 300MHz-415MHz of additional spectrum in the following bands that could potentially be allocated to commercial mobile services by 2017:

-AWS 2, 10MHz;

-AWS 3, 50MHz;

-AWS 4, 40MHz;

-WCS, 20MHz;

-600MHz, 80MHz-120MHz;

-3500MHz, 100MHz-175MHz.

Industry Canada will have separate and comprehensive consultations with industry stakeholders before making any specific decisions with respect to these bands. It is also recognised that not all of these spectrum bands will be available by 2017, and that the timing of specific decisions will be subject to international developments.

Industry Canada adds that Wi-Fi is playing an increasingly important role in the wireless networks by offloading data traffic from cellular networks onto wired networks. It is estimated that by 2015, Wi-Fi networks will carry half of all internet traffic. As a result, Industry Canada is taking steps to provide additional spectrum for licence-exempt equipment. Canada recently announced a decision to allow the use of TV white spaces, and is joining other countries in examining the potential of making additional spectrum available in the 5GHz range for use by licence-exempt equipment.

Further information on all the above announcements can be found at:

http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10580.html.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

CRTC finalises wholesale internet rates to benefit independent ISPs

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has finalised rates for wholesale high speed internet access services used by independent service providers including ISPs, which it says will lead to significant reductions in the wholesale rates certain providers pay to the large network operators. The CRTC noted that the wholesale rates are based on the large telephone and cable network operators’ costs plus a reasonable markup. ‘Large and small independent service providers now have the certainty they need to continue offering Canadians a choice of innovative and competitive services,’ said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. The rates enable large companies to recover their costs and make further investments in their networks, the watchdog claims.

All large telephone and cable companies that provide wholesale high speed access services to independent service providers must now use a single billing model and offer the same rates for business and residential end-users. This will result in a more straightforward billing process for independent service providers, the CRTC stated. Previously, certain large companies charged different rates under different billing models for wholesale and residential business services. The CRTC also expects that the new wholesale rates will have a favourable knock-on impact on prices charged in the competitive retail market.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this article

CRTC happy with Telus foreign ownership status

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has denied a request to review the level of foreign ownership in Telus Corporation, as it is satisfied that the full-service telco is following compliance rules. Rival operator Globalive Wireless (Wind Mobile) had requested a public review of shareholding structure at Telus in the interests of clarity, but the CRTC said it is satisfied with Telus’ mechanisms to comply with the foreign ownership cap of 33.3% which applies to Canada’s largest telcos including Bell, Telus and Rogers. At the time of Wind’s request in June, Telus claimed a foreign shareholding level of 32.6% but more recently revealed that its non-domestic ownership had dropped to around 15%. This is assumed to be because US hedge fund Mason Capital has sold a large proportion of its stake. In June Mason reportedly hired Blackstone Group to seek a buyer for its near-19% voting stake in the Canadian telecoms group, and Telus said that its non-Canadian ownership had fallen to 15% on 16 November 2012, from 32.6% on 29 June.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this article

BCE’s revenues up 1.5%, wireless sales rise 7%

Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) has reported net income attributable to shareholders of CAD569 million (USD569 million) in the third quarter of 2012, down by 11% from CAD642 million a year earlier, with the decrease in profitability attributed to lower tax expenses in the year-earlier period. Revenues rose by 1.5% to CAD4.98 billion, helped by wireless and media revenues climbing by 7% and 25% respectively. Bell’s mobile division added a net 148,500 post-paid subscribers in the three months ended 30 September 2012, 17% more than in the same quarter of 2011, and double the number of net quarterly post-paid additions reported by rival Rogers Communications. Bell’s wireless ARPU jumped to CAD57.30 in 3Q12 from CAD55.01 twelve months earlier, while its proportion of post-paid users with smartphones climbed to 60% at the end of September, up from 43% year-on-year.

BCE’s CEO George Cope told analysts in an earnings call that it was premature to write off the group’s attempted CAD3.4 billion takeover of broadcasting group Astral Media, despite it being disallowed by the telecoms regulator last month, as he said the company is waiting for a response on the matter from the federal government

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

Orascom to change name, take control of Canadian ops

Following on from Vimpelcom’s USD6.5 billion takeover of Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) last year, the Egyptian company has said it is changing its name to Global Telecom Holding SAE. According to a report by Reuters, the two companies have also agreed to provide one another with technical and commercial services for a period of two years to improve the efficiency of their businesses. Orascom also said it planned to take control of Canada’s Globalive Investment Holding (the parent of cellco Wind Mobile), after Canada changed the law governing foreign ownership of local businesses. The law allows Orascom’s Canadian holding company to convert non-voting shares in Globalive Investment Holding into voting shares, taking its proportion of the voting shares to 65.08% from 32.02%. Orascom will submit the name change, the new arrangement with Vimpelcom and the Canadian shareholding changes to its own shareholders for approval next month.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

CRTC blocks BCE’s Astral purchase; Bell to call in the feds

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has denied the country’s largest telecoms group BCE’s application to acquire control of Astral Media’s television and radio services because ‘it is not in the public interest.’ Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, explained: ‘BCE failed to persuade us that the deal would benefit Canadians… It would have placed significant market power in the hands of one of the country’s largest media companies. We could not have ensured a robust Canadian broadcasting system without imposing extensive and intrusive safeguards, which would have been to the detriment of the entire industry.’ The proposed transaction raised concerns related to healthy competition, the concentration of ownership in the broadcasting markets, vertical integration of telecoms/broadcasting/media groups and the exercise of market power in an anti-competitive manner. BCE (including Bell Canada/Bell Mobility/Bell TV and Bell Aliant) already controls numerous television and radio services, as well as a national satellite TV broadcasting service (and growing IPTV service), and is the largest internet service provider in Canada, the second largest wireless service provider, and the third largest overall television distributor. The decision to block the CAD3.4 billion (USD3.5 billion) deal followed a public hearing held last month.

BCE’s rival Rogers Communications issued the following statement: ‘We commend the CRTC for this courageous decision. We believe that Canadians should have fair and open access to content. This is a good day for consumers.’ However, BCE reacted by saying that it will ask the federal government to override the CRTC’s decision, which it claimed went against the regulator’s own policy. George Cope, CEO of Bell Canada said: ‘We met all the CRTC’s rules, indeed our acquisition of Astral was based directly on the CRTC’s currently in-place Diversity of Voices policy. The wide-ranging benefits to Canadians of the transaction are clear, but the CRTC has told consumers that they and the rules in place just don’t matter.’ Bell’s chief legal representative Mirko Bibic added: ‘Canadian broadcasting needs significant new investment, fresh ideas and increased choice in a time of cable company dominance in media and accelerating competition from foreign giants who invest little to nothing in the Canadian broadcasting system.’

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article