12/12/2013 05:29 EST | Updated 02/11/2014 05:59 EST

CRTC to probe wholesale rates for cellphone roaming

The federal regulator is looking at wholesale rates Canadian companies charge for roaming in its ongoing investigation into why Canadian roaming rates are so high.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it has obtained information that the Big 3 telecom companies – Telus, Bell and Rogers – are proposing to charge higher rates to the small, new entrant companies than they charge to U.S. wireless companies.

Smaller wireless providers, such as Wind, must rely on the networks of other companies when their customers travel outside their usual coverage area.

Higher wholesale rates can make it difficult to keep consumer roaming rates down.

“We are concerned that some wireless companies may be making it unfairly difficult for Canadian providers that do not operate a national network to compete in the marketplace,” Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, said in a news release.

“We have the authority to ensure that companies do not give themselves an unfair competitive advantage. This includes charging wholesale wireless roaming rates that are unjustly discriminatory or by insisting on unduly restrictive terms and conditions.

Blais said the CRTC would act to fix any rates it considers uncompetitive.

The regulator began a fact-finding exercise into roaming rates earlier this fall.