Telecom Commission letter addressed to various parties
Ottawa, 6 August, 2021
Our reference: 1011-NOC2019-0057
Assistant General Counsel
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
Vice-President - Telecom Policy & Chief Regulatory Legal Counsel
TELUS Communications Inc.
Re: Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2021-130, Review of mobile wireless services – Request for Information regarding low-cost and occasional-use plans
On 15 April 2021, the Commission published Telecom Regulatory Policy 2021-130, Review of mobile wireless services (“the Policy”). In the Policy, the Commission indicated that it expected Bell Mobility Inc. (Bell Mobility), Rogers Communications Canada Inc. (RCCI), TELUS Communications Inc. (TCI) (collectively, the national wireless carriers) and Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) to offer low-cost and occasional-use plans that met certain criteria, as outlined in the Policy, within 90 days of the date of the Policy.
Specifically, in paragraphs 545 to 559 of the Policy, the Commission set expectations that SaskTel and each of the national wireless carriers, on their premium brands (also referred to as the main brands of each of the wireless carriers), in the geographic areas where they were found to exercise retail market power, offer:
- at least one postpaid low-cost plan;
- at least one postpaid occasional-use plan; and
- at least one prepaid occasional-use plan.
In addition, the Commission set out the minimum attributes and a maximum price for each of the plans in question.
While the Policy does not expressly define “premium brands”, the Commission notes in the Policy that various parties participating in the proceeding, including the national wireless carriers, made a distinction between the premium and flanker brands of the national wireless carriers. Further, in footnote three of the Policy, the Commission defined flanker brands as “subsidiary brands operated by or affiliated with wireless carriers.” The Commission also cited examples of flanker brands being offered by each of the national wireless carriers. Notably, Bell Mobility currently offers services under the brands Virgin Mobile and Lucky Mobile, Fido and Chatr are offered under RCCI, and TCI offers services under Koodo and Public Mobile.
With respect to the national wireless carriers, the aforementioned low-cost and occasional-use wireless service plans do not appear to be listed on any of their respective premium brand websites (with the exception of TCI’s prepaid occasional-use plan), and instead are listed on their flanker brand websites (Bell Mobility’s Virgin Mobile and Lucky Mobile; RCCI’s Fido; and TCI’s Koodo websites).
The purpose of this letter is to understand the steps that the national wireless carriers have taken to meet the expectations set out in the Policy with respect to low-cost and occasional-use wireless service plans.
Therefore, the national wireless carriers are requested to, for their respective companies:
- file a description of each low-cost and occasional-use plan, containing the attributes set out in paragraphs 545 to 559 of the Policy;
- identify the specific brand that such plans are being offered by, i.e. their premium or flanker brands; and
- identify whether such plans are currently being offered or will be offered at a later date.
- In the case of plans currently being offered, describe how the plans are promoted, and, wherever possible, include screenshots and URLs of webpages displaying the plans.
- For any plans that are not currently offered, describe your intentions to do so, including the expected launch date of each plan and how it will be promoted.
The above information is to be filed with the Commission by 27 August 2021.
As noted in the Policy, wireless service offerings are evolving and prices are expected to continue to decline in the future. Accordingly, the Commission considered that it was more appropriate, at that time, to impose clear expectations on the offering of low-cost and occasional-use plans and let the market respond to these expectations. This approach was taken rather than mandating such plans, which the Commission considered would be an unnecessarily prescriptive measure in these circumstances. Nevertheless, the Commission noted in the Policy that:
- it could revisit the issue of mandating such plans, should the market not develop in a manner that adequately responds to these expectations;
- developments over the course of time may require that assessments of retail measures be revisited; and
- its determinations under subsection 34(1) of the Telecommunications Act (the Act) with respect to forbearance may need to be revisited, should these expectations not result in market forces addressing the concerns identified for consumers seeking these types of retail options. More generally, as with any Commission determination, the determinations made under section 34 of the Act on the basis of the record of the proceeding may be revisited in the event of significant changes in circumstances.
Accordingly, your responses to this letter (to be filed by 27 August 2021) and the first semi-annual report (to be filed by 30 September 2021) will assist the Commission in determining whether the expectations set out in the Policy are being met, and whether follow-up regulatory action, as signalled in the Policy, is warranted.If you have any questions, please contact Bradley Gaudet at email@example.com.
Original signed by
Chief of Consumer, Research and Communications
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