CRTC rules Sugar Mobile can continue using Rogers’ network, at least for now


Looks like scrappy mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Sugar Mobile will hang on to existence outside of the northern territories for at least a little while longer.

The CRTC, Canada’s regulating body for the telecom industry, has given a temporary order that Sugar Mobile (which is still under a year old) can continue to use Rogers’ network for roaming purposes. The company currently offers low-cost BYOD plans featuring $19 top-ups, and like any MVNO, doesn’t own its network infrastructure, instead relying on sister company Ice Wireless.

Since Ice only operates in the northern territories, however, Sugar Mobile subscribers use a Rogers-heavy roaming network negotiated by Ice whenever they leave their home network.

According to The Globe and Mail, Rogers argued in February that Ice Wireless was in breach of its roaming agreement because most of Sugar Mobile’s customers may never use Ice Wireless’ home network at all, therefore making the term “roaming” a false statement.

Rogers agreed to keep the agreement in place, however, until a ruling was made regarding a temporary order. Last week, the CRTC decided it would compel Rogers to honour the agreement until a final decision is made at a later date that includes a ruling on the rates that Rogers, Telus and Bell can charge smaller players for roaming.

Danielle May-Cuconato, secretary-general of the CRTC stated in a letter that if the roaming agreement was cut off “market loss would be inevitable and, given the competitive nature of the wireless industry, it would be very difficult to repatriate customers that were lost.”

Related reading: Sugar Mobile’s days may be numbered

[source]The Globe and Mail[/source]