Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CRTC to Review Roaming Rates That Wireless Carriers Charge Consumers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CRTC to Review Roaming Rates That Wireless Carriers Charge Consumers

Article excerpt

Roaming rates getting another look by CRTC

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Roaming rates paid by cellphone users when they're travelling in Canada and the U.S. will get more scrutiny by the CRTC, which is considering possible regulations as a result of consumer complaints.

More than 35 telecom companies had to submit information on the terms and conditions of their roaming rates to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission by Friday.

The CRTC had set the deadline after hearing consumers' concerns that the cost of roaming on another carrier's network could be "unreasonable."

"A decision on whether there is a need to intervene will be made once the CRTC has reviewed the information it has asked the wireless companies to provide," the CRTC's Chris Seidl said in an emailed statement.

The additional information will also help it determine the choices available to consumers and the competitiveness of Canada's wireless industry, said Seidl, executive director of telecommunications at the CRTC.

Telecom analyst Eamon Hoey said he expects the CRTC to regulate roaming rates, adding it's the beginning of more regulation for the wireless industry.

"Consumers are more than just a bit annoyed at the rates that they're paying not only for basic cellular service, but for roaming, for additional charges, for contracts, you name it," said Hoey, of Hoey Associates Management Consultants Inc. in Toronto.

Hoey also said Bell (TSX:BCE), Telus (TSX:T) and Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) didn't do themselves any favours with consumers or the federal government with their publicity blitz against big U.S. carrier Verizon, which had expressed some interest in Canada's wireless market but decided against coming north earlier this month.

Rates aren't low enough, he said, adding that Canada's wireless carriers "pay in pennies per minute" to foreign carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and U. …

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