In 2008, as part of the government's policies to encourage new competition in the wireless sector, Industry Canada required all carriers to offer roaming on their networks. These roaming policies included some provisions that were only available to new entrant service carriers for five years and were to begin expiring in 2013. In order to support competition and continued access to roaming for consumers, Industry Canada is taking the following measures to improve these roaming policies:
-- extending roaming provisions indefinitely and expanding them to all carriers; and-- reducing the timelines to trigger arbitration and the arbitration timelines applicable to carriers negotiating roaming agreements.
Pursuant to Industry Canada's policy, roaming rates are determined through negotiations between licensees, but conditions of licence provide for mandatory arbitration to set fair market rates if the parties cannot agree. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has the authority under the Telecommunications Act to examine matters regarding roaming and tower-sharing rates and terms.
In 2008, Industry Canada also mandated antenna tower and site sharing. This policy was introduced to reduce the proliferation of antenna towers and to facilitate the entry of new competition into the wireless market. In order to further advance these objectives, Industry Canada is making changes to improve the current tower-sharing policies, including:
-- strengthening accountability of carriers to increase the sharing of towers and reduce negotiation timelines;-- improving monitoring of the effectiveness of the policy by requiring regular detailed reporting to Industry Canada on the status of negotiations and towers shared; and-- reducing the timelines to trigger and complete arbitration.
Given the increased number of new agreements involving new entrants, Industry Canada notes that tower sharing is improving. However, if such tower-sharing improvements do not continue, Industry Canada will take further action.
For more on these improvements to mandated roaming and antenna tower sharing, please see the following documents:
-- Revised Frameworks for Mandatory Roaming and Antenna Tower and Site Sharing (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10546.html)-- Conditions of Licence for Mandatory Roaming and Antenna Tower and Site Sharing and to Prohibit Exclusive Site Arrangements (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf09081.html)-- Industry Canada's Arbitration Rules and Procedures (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf09079.html)
Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook
As Canadians increasingly embrace smartphones and tablets, the Government of Canada is showing leadership by ensuring that our wireless industry has access to the spectrum it needs to remain competitive and deliver services to Canadians. Accordingly, the Government is setting out a plan to make spectrum available in the coming years, as well as setting the date and approach to the upcoming 700 MHz auction.
Spectrum is a public asset that should be used to improve the services and technology available to Canadian consumers and to support the growth of our economy. By drafting a plan that puts Canadian consumers first, the Government will enable Canadian companies to remain competitive and to continue providing Canadians access to the latest and greatest technologies. It is important that Canadians have a road map concerning spectrum availability in the medium term.
The Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook provides an overview of the Government's approach to making spectrum available to meet the future demand for commercial mobile services.
After the upcoming 700 MHz auction on November 19, 2013, and the 2500 MHz auction the following year, Canada will be more than two thirds of the way towards its target of allocating 750 MHz of commercial mobile spectrum by the end of 2017. The Government has identified more spectrum that could be used for commercial wireless services over the next five years. We will work with all Canadians to use spectrum to increase coverage, promote competition and ensure that the latest technologies are available.
The Government will hold separate and comprehensive consultations with industry stakeholders before making any specific decisions with respect to these bands. The timing of specific decisions will be decided in concert with international developments.
Beyond 2017, mobile data traffic will undoubtedly continue to grow, likely resulting in additional spectrum requirements. It is conceivable that at least 1000 MHz of mobile broadband spectrum will be required by the start of the next decade. As a result, the Government will continue to monitor developments, both in Canada and abroad, and will update this plan accordingly.
For more information, please see the Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf09444.html).
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Christian Paradis
Minister of Industry