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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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  • Michael Moniz

    Yes I’m concerned about Verizon. Concerned they might NOT enter our market!

    And this whining from Bell! How history eludes them! Like every major tech infrastructure push, taxpayers through our government, also subsidized Bell’s initial growth in getting land-line service rolled out everywhere, especially rural areas in the early part of the 20th century. Then Bell fought tooth and nail against allowing land-line competition in the late 20th century and that they should not get to use Bell’s lines, which we subsidized. We know how that turned out. Now the same story here. To Bell, and all the other entrenched Telcos, fair for them, is when they get to decide what the rules are, that benefit them.

  • Corey Hoffarth

    All I hear is bell telus and Rogers whining that they don’t want any more competition and their stronghold on us will be loosened with another company coming in. Our big three are always slow to move to being new innovations to their customers and I think Verizon can change that.

  • JB

    Anything that has the incumbents this up in arms HAS to be good for consumers.

    I think we’re all good and well fed up with this complaining from ROBelUS. Drop your pricing or shut the hell up.

  • Brian

    I can’t wait until some competition hits the market.

  • K3

    “Play fair” to urge Canadians to listen to and understand the grave situation that awaits them should Verizon enter Canada.

    LOL… they’re not even in Canada yet and I’m already a customer.

    ” Just say yes to Verizon on the Canadian horizon “.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Poor Bell, Rogers and Telus. They’re no longer going to have all the advantages if Verizon comes to Canada. Such a pity. Oh and how utterly devastating that none of the Big 3 can buy any of the startup wireless companies and thus tighten their stranglehold on their oligopoly even further. Eat shit Bell. Rogers and Telus. You’ll get EXACTLY what you’ve got coming should Verizon enter the Canadian wireless market! Man I hope these tools (CEO’s) are having many a sleepless night just shitting the bed worrying about Verizon!

  • The problem with this is that Bell has been making the telecom market unfair for years, trying to ensure they have a privileged position and keeping away competition. Now they come asking Canadians to be fair with them.

    I say let’s be fair with them, by telling them to be fair with us. Let’s write them back and tell them they need to start being fair with their pricing and offerings before we’ll be fair on the regulatory side.

    I’m happy watching them squirm.

  • Kamran

    “Play fair”? And them gouging consumers with their unreasonably high priced cell phone plans was fair? They’re one to talk.

  • Kel

    All the pro-Verizon supporters should read the article before commenting. No one is against competition, they are against the current rules in place for new-entrants, giving Verizon advantages and “hand-outs” meant for small companies to gain traction in the Canadian market. Bring Verizon, but when you do, just make sure it’s a fair playing field.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    You mean like the fair playing field (oligopoly) that the Big 3 offer Canadian consumers? Me thinks you must work for one of said 3 companies.The Big 3 have had ALL the advantages over the years and quite obviously are up in arms with that about to change.

  • K3

    Never was a fair playing field to begin with, any chance you’re that Rogers rep from a few months back?

  • K3

    You know Gary if you keep posting the current Canadian carriers “Dear Joe public, we plead with you” letters like this you should hand out more tissues. ????

    “Just yesterday, Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed stated a fourth wireless carrier in Canada is not needed and unsustainable”..

    Unsustainable for his retirement package.

  • Time to hit up Costco for tissues for you guys! 😉

  • The CRTC has for years given Bell and other incumbents all manor of protections. I love buying from Bell, they have been good to me over the years and I’ll reward them with my continued patronage as long as they are competitive. My willingness to switched started when they began charging me for directory assistance a number of years ago. Before the CRTC changed the rules, round about 1998, this was a free service. Bell complained and the CRTC complied. It’s now $2.49 to get directory assistance on a mobile phone using an automated service. Hey Bell, how about you stop gouging your customers and see how that helps your competitive position.

  • crosseyed_mofo

    oh yes we cannot have anyone disturb our current environment of fairness

  • wuju

    Agree completely!

  • First Rogers, now Bell…this is hilarious. Who the hell could compete with any of the big three anyway, if not a major US company?

    The alternative is to keep getting shafted by the “true Canadian” oligopoly that is Bell, Rogers, and Telus, so I’m guessing they won’t get a ton of support from these “heartfelt” pleas.

  • Kel

    I don’t actually disagree with anyone, maybe “fair” was a bad choice of words. But I still see it like this – if Verizon enters the game, which I’m not against, I don’t think they should have the right to buy out a smaller player in the market and the Big 3 can’t make that same bid. Or, why the Big 3 can’t buy more spectrum. If it’s an auction, all 4 should have equal rights to bid as much as they are willing to.

  • Jason

    Bell thinks this is unfair? Ha, they should ask their customers what they think is unfair.

  • Spanky

    Gary, find out how much it costs for a full page ad.
    Than we can all pitch in for the cost.
    We can tell the Big 3 to start being fair with us.
    I will start it off with a $20 donation.

  • Bluntly put: Whaaaaaaaaaaa.

    Bring on Verizon, I’ll switch in a heartbeat just out of spite of the incumbents based on how we’ve all been treated in the past. What they’re *REALLY* worried about is exactly that – there’s lots of people all itching to do the exact same.

    The big three have benefited greatly in the last 10 years from protectionism and tables that were stacked in their favour, and suddenly they’re asking for the tables to be turned when it’s them looking like the small fry in the face of the bohemoth instead of the other way around.

  • I’m sure OpenMedia will have a response. Donate to them, they’re the ones who are working hard to support consumers.

  • Matt Trovato

    Reading some of these comments, I’m surprised none of you have moved to the states just so you can have Verizon as your phone carrier. Who needs Viagra when all you need to think about is Verizon, right?

  • SR

    Their intent does not appear to be to block Verizon from entering the market; rather, to ensure that they do not enter by:

    – scooping hundreds of millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies on spectrum (a limited public resource)

    – at the expense of both Canadian debtholders (by acquiring the new entrants at bargain prices due to the exclusion of Canadian suitors) and investors (by letting the present regulatory uncertainty continue to erode value in widely-held securities of the big 3)

    – jeopardizing the reliability of Canadian carriers networks and limiting their ability to invest in expansion and new technology by blocking access to much-needed spectrum and forced roaming without building their own infrastructure

    as consumers we’re all in favour of competition, and the carriers appear to be confident in their ability to adapt in a heightened (but fair) competitive environment. The point they’re trying to make, it appears, is that the present regulatory framework opens the door to a heightened (but unfair) competitive environment at a very significant cost to Canadians.

    Which option is the greatest net benefit to Canada? A new competitive environment, with a 4th major carrier (5th in many regions) that invests in Canada and compels the big 3 to continue to do the same? Orone that comes with extremely high costs to Canadians?

  • Holly

    lol, as I said in my original tweet to you, they have the big three running scared! Hopefully this is a positive sign that Version will be coming to Canada. Fingers crossed. 🙂

  • reformcanada

    The rats at Bell will stop at nothing to prevent competition.

  • Thanks for the heads up on the ad, Holly 🙂

  • Peter Pottinger

    lol they are just making the case for us

  • Peter Pottinger

    hell no i dont want a level playing field, heck give version free spectrum for all i care

  • Peter Pottinger

    what is this nonsense?

  • As much as I love supporting Canadian products when I can, at the end of the day price matters. If Verizon (or any other carrier) can offer better plans, then I’m ready to join. Just let me know when that will happen.

  • Eugene

    Ha, paying premium for TV service, it’s normal, yeah, no competition, they don’t complain, paying premium for bandwidth and caps with Internet service because no competitions. Lol, it’s all about them loosing profit and end of gold age, where you can charge much more than anywhere in a world and not worries about,
    Sure, tell about fair competition,

  • rrosales

    So, Bell, Rogers & Telus, can you here us now?

  • disqus_r1Pt5NQslX

    This is easy… Lower your prices FAST or bring in Verizon!

  • Zing

    F The big 3..bring Verizon to Canada!

  • Mikef2007

    Bring it on!

  • Holly

    NP, knew you, and the readers, would be interested! 😉

  • Farids

    Look who’s writing this letter. A company that’s at the pinnacle of unfair monopoly right along side Rogers! What they’re afraid of is for Verizon to lower pricing to gain new customers to a point that big 3 can’t rip off their customers like they’ve been doing the past 15 years!!! Up until now, the big 3 have had to deal with smaller players, very easy task: if the competition becomes a danger, buy it out (Fido). If the competition offers good pricing put the legal squeeze (CRTC has always been on the big 3 take). Don’t allow investments thereby slowing the growth of the smaller company’s network. Give inconsistent service when the competition’s subscribers use the big 3’s network (high dropped calls when Wind and Mobilicity’s customers are roaming in big 3’s network). Arrest or retard the growth of the small company to a point of damaging their reputation and not letting them grow to a size to really compete. That’s always been the plan. Now, for the first time, they’re dealing with someone much bigger than them! Verizon will come in. It will use its roaming agreement with Bell, Telus and Rogers to instantly become the largest network in Canada while they build their own network. And for the first time, the balance will shift in favor of us, the consumer. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Canadian. I love to deal with and buy “Canadian”. But only if “Canadian” doesn’t rip me off in broad daylight!! Canadian Tire kept saying buy “Canadian” too. But they only stopped ripping off Canadians and lowered their pricing to a fair level when Walmart came to Canada. Now what this letter is saying sounds to me like “Don’t buy Verizon if they offer our $120 a month unlimited package for $40”. I’m a regular shopper in Canadian Tire now, perhaps I’ll start subscribing to Bell after Verizon settles in!

  • E-mann

    Want to know what’s unfair… Rogers, Bell and Telus all got free spectrum when they started out. So stop bitching Rogers, Bell and Telus

  • Qwa123

    Well, Big 3 can suck it!
    These greedy a-holes had it coming

  • 1His_Nibs1

    I refer you to E-mann’s comment. They (big 3) got spectrum for free so how is it any more damaging to Canadians if we give one American company the same privilege once? Or are you in favor of just giving Canadian companies free handouts? As far as your comment and I quote “at the expense of both Canadian debt holders (by acquiring the new entrants at bargain prices due to the exclusion of Canadian suitors)” Ummm do you not recall the federal government wanting 4 major carriers? If they permit any of the Big 3 to purchase recent entrants to the wireless scene then that perpetuates the oligopoly they currently have AND grants them even more of a stranglehold! I have to wonder if the gibberish you’re spewing isn’t that of a Big 3 employee, as it sure sounds like you’ve drank the Kool-Aid!

  • bj

    The big three crooks want sympathy from the Canadian Public after ripping us off for years. Give us a break.

  • unqiash

    Bell CEO George Cope is right…Canadians do want a level playing field & fair competition… how about then switching to 2 year contracts, unlocking our phones for free after 3 months, or maybe even for free after our 3 yr contract is over (rather than paying 75$) & not charging us a 35$ activation fee, capping our data & calls to a limit the customer choses…. George Cope is more worried that Verizon might make a dent in his retirement bonus. They have been screwing us for years, now they want our support…..I’m sure you can do with a few million less every year Georgie…..

  • Sarah

    One thing my mama taught me is that life is NOT fair. Suck it up you big 3 princesses, there’s a new age coming and you’re going to find out just what us Canadians think of you. You better lower your prices for new and existing customers NOW if you intend to retain any of us when Verizon (and hopefully MANY more companies with even more competition) arrive.

  • Greengrapes1

    They are only interested in protecting their monopoly. I can’t wait for Verizon to come to Canada. I’ll be the first one to switch. If this is what it takes to bring cell phone plans down, then so be it, I’m all for it. I’m tired of getting ripped off by these companies. Maybe then, will they finally realize that I and many other Canadians are tired of being taken for granted. Canada has, if not the highest, one of the highest cell phone rates in the world. Why? Because of the big 3. I’ll gladly send my money to the U.S. if it means the big 3 will drop their rate plans and become more competitive. Welcome to Canada Verizon!! Sign me up!!

  • Greengrapes1

    You’re an idiot.

  • John White

    I agree completely…after being gouged by Bell for decades, I hope an American company comes in here makes them see what real competition is all about.

  • deaner23

    When i heard the ad on CBC radio the other day, I laughed out loud as i recalled the time i dumped Bell ten years ago.. I was at home with my son and money was tight, so we really watched our spending. We first noticed a problem when my husband opened our phone bill and asked who the hell i was calling in Tauklau? We had to look it up to see where it was….they are islands near New Zealand. We called Bell and they insisted it was our calls and would look into the matter. We waited to pay and then the second bill came in for over $500!! Again, i called Bell they insisted it was either my husband (who was working out of town) and even my son who was two that could have made these calls that turned out to be some sort of porn sites. We dumped them on the spot, had to go into our small savings and pay it because they then threatened us with creditors if we did not. The managers we dealt with had thick Indian accents and we finally had one admit that we were dealing with a calling center in India and not Toronto as the first guy told us. Anyways, Global news broke the story that month that through Bell, customers modems were hijacked and they knew it all along, one man on disability was being strong armed by Bell to pay a $5,000 one month bill. They take us for fools, as another suggestion to our crazy bill was that a neighbor of ours could possibly be breaking in while we werent home Ludicrous. The lying, cheating and scamming assured me I will never support Bell again.

  • crasucks

    Canadians as a whole lose when outside countries take over jobs and markets in Canada. It may seem like there is a short term benefit, but the lost jobs due to Canadian companies going out of business put Canada in a far worse situation.

    It is a fact that for Canada to keep its standard of living, we need to stop selling resources, jobs, services to other countries.

    Competition is mandatory, however unfair advantage for other countries is absolutely the wrong thing. Canadian based companies should be on par or have some advantages to promote local job creation, it is ridiculous to give a a non-Canadian Company an advantage over a local business.
    This stinks of someone in Government getting a pay off.

  • Update: here’s our interview with Industry Minister James Moore on Ottawa’s wireless plans: http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/carriers/minister-moore-big-3-campaigns-not-successful-interview/

  • Chris

    They just don’t want to lose money. Its always about money. If Verizon comes to Canada, how many customers will ‘the big 3’ lose? How much does that mean in lost revenue. I welcome any competition that will save me my hard earned money on the same services we get scammed on by our supposedly canadian companies. Its time companys to put their pride in their back pocket and think of the consumers for a change. Consumers need a break from digging into their pockets so deep.

  • Matt

    I completely agree with Marc here.

    Furthermore and what I find interesting, is that Bell is pleading with Canada and stating this newcomer will take away from Canadian jobs. When Bell set up their customer support team in India and outsourced rather than hiring our own native Canadians, weren’t they doing the same thing?

    Ironic indeed.

  • Anominous

    Bell doesn’t deserve to exist and deserves the compatition that will hopefully hurt them emensly and financialy. They are built on GREED and they don’t care about their customers. They only care about being a super power and outsourcing their work to other counties for the cheapest labour. They are not pro canada and couldnt give a shit. I HATE Bell for what they represent
    and they get away with murder. Our goverment doesnt care because they are making money off of Bells GREAD. The more bell charges and gouges us the more profets our goverment makes.

  • Anominous

    Bell had plenty of chances to come good and drop their prices but it never happened and it never will. I wish bell would understand the abuse and neglect they put their customers through with their insane bill charges. Its great that they can’t compete with netflix and their new compatition like eastlink. Bell canada is a scumbag empire along with all the elite that own and have a say on how they are operating it. Bell is digging their own hole but hopefully they will be able to stick their FAT GREADY ASS in it.

  • Anominous

    Bell Canada what a bunch of peice of shit cry babies. BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURN in your own oil Bell. You think your going to get sympathy from the public think again. Bell deserves to see some real hard times. Hard times that hopefully will bankrupt them and put them out of business.

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