hi-cell-wireless-phone-0210-8col

Wind Mobile has reduced the rates it charges its customers when they use their phones on other cellular networks. (CBC)

Wind Mobile will slash what it charges customers when the roam on other companies networks by 95 per cent after a CRTC ruling that forces big telecom companies to charge smaller rivals less for that service.

The company announced Thursday its customers will be charged only five cents to download one megabyte of data when they are outside of Wind's coverage area.

The rate for standing voice calls while roaming has also been cut, from 20 cents to 15. And the rate to send a text while roaming is also now lower — down to 5 cents, from 15 previously.

"Our new domestic roaming rates and roaming network speeds give our customers the freedom to use their phone while travelling anywhere across Canada and the U.S., adding increased value and coverage to our already low-priced plans," the company's chief marketing officer Mirko Rugarli said in a release.

CRTC ruling

The move is likely a reaction to a CRTC ruling last month that found larger telecom companies were overcharging smaller rivals like Wind to use their networks, and making it unnecessarily difficult for them to write similar agreements with other companies.

​Roaming allows the customers of wireless companies to automatically maintain cellular coverage when they travel in areas outside the range of their home carrier and into the networks of rival companies. Typically, wireless companies iron out agreements in advance for how much they will each pay each other for this service, so that customers aren't interrupted when they travel.

The CRTC finding effectively voided those roaming agreements, meaning Wind and other smaller companies could now renegotiate better deals for themselves and their customers. 

The regulator has so far stopped short of implementing a hard cap on roaming rates, but that option could be on the table in a series of hearing the CRTC is holding this fall on the issue of wireless pricing.