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Bell CEO Writes Open Letter in the Toronto Star, Warns Canadians About Verizon [PIC]

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The campaign is well underway by our wireless incumbents to warn Canadians about the dire situation they would face should a U.S. carrier like Verizon enter the market here.

A two-page open letter in today’s Toronto Star (spotted by iPhoneinCanada reader @hollysisson), written by Bell President and CEO George Cope, warns Canadian wireless users about Verizon, as this “$120 billion US telecommunications giant with 100 million wireless customers” is not the type of company that would “need handouts from Canadians or special regulatory advantages over Canadian companies.”

Here is an excerpt of the intro, which shares about the storied history of the company and how Verizon could affect it for the worse:

Bell Canada is taking the unusual step of writing to all Canadians today. As the nation’s longest-serving telecommunications company, established shortly after Confederation in 1880, we would like to ensure Canadians clearly understand a critical situation impacting their world-leading wireless industry.

Verizon Communications, a $120-billion US telecommunications giant with 100 million wireless customers, is considering entering the Canadian market. A company of this scale certainly doesn’t need handouts from Canadians or special regulatory advantages over Canadian companies. But that is exactly what they get in the new federal wireless regulations.

Bell welcomes any competitor, but they should compete on a level playing field. Fair competition is something Canadians demand and something Bell expects too after 133 years of investment in delivering world-class communications services to Canadians.

Note the second page headline reads there are other parties also “concerned” about Verizon:

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The rest of the letter echoes a press release Bell issued today, highlighting three loopholes in federal regulations which gives Verizon unfair advantages:

  • Buy twice as much new wireless spectrum in the upcoming auction of Canada’s 700 MHz airwaves as Canadian carriers at a lower overall price: 4 prime blocks of spectrum are available but Verizon can buy two, while incumbents are limited to one. One big player will be shut out.
  • Get a free ride on the world-leading networks funded and built by Canadians: Verizon would get to piggyback on our incumbent networks in certain areas and not build their own.
  • Acquire smaller Canadian wireless companies at fire-sale prices: Verizon is able to buy new wireless start ups “at cut-rate prices”, even though the ‘Big 3’ were unable to (TELUS was shut down in their attempt to acquire Mobilicity).

Mirko Bibic, Bell’s Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer goes onto say:

“With the loopholes in the rules, Canadian companies cannot even try to acquire startup wireless companies at any price, but American companies can. And they can bid for more of our country’s airwaves and at a lower price. Favouring US companies over Canadians threatens our national communications industry and its place in Canada’s future growth, productivity and prosperity,”

Bell, like Rogers and TELUS, wants the federal government to level the playing field and allow all players to bid on two blocks of spectrum, have US carrier build their own networks and allow the incumbents to bid on our wireless entrants. Bell has launched a dedicated page on their website called “Play fair” to urge Canadians to listen to and understand the grave situation that awaits them should Verizon enter Canada.

If Verizon does enter Canada, it’ll bring some real outside competition everybody has been longing for. Just yesterday, Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed stated a fourth wireless carrier in Canada is not needed and unsustainable, while recently TELUS CEO Darren Entwistle warned against the “bloodbath” that would ensue should Verizon enter bidding in our wireless spectrum.

What do you think about Bell’s open letter? Are you concerned about Verizon entering Canada?

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