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Data on Tap asks Trudeau gov. to review MVNO decision

News | 05/04/2021 6:14 pm EDT

Data on Tap Inc., one of the country’s hopeful mobile virtual network operators, has filed a petition to the governor in council, asking the government of Justin Trudeau to review the April decision of the CRTC to only mandate access to incumbent mobile networks for a limited number of regional operators. 

In a Tuesday release, Data On Tap (which operates under the name dotmobile) CEO Algis Akstinas said that the CRTC’s decision “misinterprets Canada’s wireless policy.”

“Industry analysts, telecom experts, competitive regional providers and even the dominant carriers all recognise that this decision will not have any meaningful, immediate or nation-wide effect on the wireless market,” he said in the release. 

According to the release, Data On Tap’s petition proposes full wholesale access for MVNOs to incumbent Radio-Access Networks, doing away with the spectrum and RAN requirements put forward in the CRTC’s decision. 

Akstinas also pointed to the proposed merger of Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. as reasons for the government to review the decision. “The impending market consolidation between Shaw and Rogers, a big change that is not factored into the CRTC decision, is proof that meaningful and sustainable competition is not possible without a mandated wholesale framework and much lower barriers of entry,” Akstinas said in the release. 

In a March interview with the Wire Report, Akstinas pointed to the Rogers acquisition of Shaw as evidence of the need for a full MVNO mandate. He said the merger “removes that regulatory darling,” describing Shaw as an “example of competition that [incumbents] were using to distract from MVNOs, and especially a full MVNO mandate.” 

“After this acquisition, there will be no pretending that they can do that everywhere in Canada.” 

The acquisition “would constitute as a significant development in the market, necessitating that this policy be reviewed,” Data On Tap’s petition said.

In the petition to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, company said it is “is deeply concerned with the disconnect between the CRTC Decision and your Ministry’s 2019 Policy Direction, that the CRTC’s definition of an MVNO was disregarded in the CRTC Decision, and how the Commissioner’s proposal was incorrectly defined as a ‘facilities-based MVNO’ in order to be included in the evaluation.” 

In an interview with the Wire Report Tuesday night, Akstinas acknowledged that the petition takes up to a year before a response from government. 

“We don’t expect this to be a very fast process, but what we know is we want to challenge this,” he said.  

“We think there is a disconnect between what government wanted,” he said, “and what the CRTC put weight on — the 2006 policy direction.” 

— Reporting by Michael Lee-Murphy at mleemurphy@thewirereport.ca and editing by Hannah Daley at hdaley@thewirereport.ca

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