UPDATE 1-Canada to cap wholesale wireless rates charged by big firms

Tue May 5, 2015 4:18pm EDT
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(New throughout, adds details, background, comments from regulator)

By David Ljunggren

GATINEAU, Quebec May 5 (Reuters) - Canada will limit the wholesale wireless rates that major companies charge their rivals as part of a push to boost competition in the telecommunications sector, the country's broadcast regulator said on Tuesday.

The move means the three firms that dominate the market -- Telus Corp, BCE Inc and Rogers Communications Inc -- will have to charge lower rates than at present. This is designed to allow smaller firms to expand.

Boosting telecom competition is a priority for the federal Conservative government, which since 2008 has set aside some of the airwaves the wireless industry relies on for new entrants and regional players, with mixed success.

The broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), said Bell, Telus and Rogers "can maintain rates and impose conditions that would not prevail in a competitive market".

It added in a statement: "Other Canadian wireless companies need to obtain these services under reasonable rates, terms and conditions."

The ruling should give less powerful rivals such as Wind Mobile and Quebecor Inc's Videotron unit more scope to expand their services to more of the country.

The smaller companies have long complained the big three charge unreasonable rates and are slow to respond to requests for roaming and tower-sharing deals, thereby hindering competition.   Continued...