Mark Goldberg


Will we need to learn the lessons again?

Last week, I wrote about “Regulatory arbitrage” and tried to draw a parallel between “today‚Äôs proposed MVNOs and the long distance resellers of 30 years ago.”

A long time Canadian telecommunications regulatory colleague commented on that post and suggested that a better analogy might be local competition.

George Hariton wrote:

The parallel with long distance is interesting. But the more relevant analogy is the 1997 decision mandating incumbents to give new entrants access to their networks for local voice (POTS) competition. In particular, unbundled local loops are functionally similar to what some MVNOs are asking for (some MVNOs are asking for a lot more, of course). Back then, mandated access was justified by the “stepping-stone” or “ladder-of-investment” theories. In practice, local competition became a reality when cable companies used their own facilities to provide that competition, and when mobile services became enough of a substitute.

I guess we will have to learn that lesson all over again.

Let me point out that I don’t think anyone in the CRTC Wireless Review proceeding is saying MVNOs are evil and should be banned. The issue relates to whether MVNO access should be mandated, or if the decision should be left up to the operators (both virtual and facilities-based) to develop a mutually beneficial business case.

There is a long history that can provide guidance in telecommunications competition in Canada.

Will we need to learn the lessons again?

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