Big 3 to Ottawa: Abandon your Search for ‘Unicorn’ Fourth Player


Big 3 carriers canada

Canada’s Big 3 carriers met with the federal Liberal Party today to coerce Ottawa to ditch its search to attract a fourth national wireless player and rather focus efforts on improving service to rural communities, reports the Globe and Mail.

Senior officials from both small and large wireless players debated for over two hours today in a round table discussion organized by Liberal MP Judy Sgro in an unofficial meeting in Ottawa.

It was here Ted Woodhead, a senior vice-president with Telus suggested the Conservative government should abandon its “search for the unicorn fourth player in every market,” saying telecom firms require critical mass in order to compete.

Mirko Bibic, executive vice-president with Bell, reiterated the Big 3 players each have less than 10 million subscribers each, compared to Verizon’s 100 million. This modest user base, according to Bibic, makes it difficult for players to address customer demands:

“What does that mean? It means that when Bell, Rogers and Telus want handsets, when they go see Samsung and when they go see iPhone, you take what they give you,” said Mr. Bibic. “You can’t say ‘I want an iPhone, but it’s gotta work on this spectrum, because this is the spectrum I have.’ They say ‘go away’.”

Jonathan Holmes, executive director of the Independent Telecommunications Providers Association, representing individual wireless firms, argued small regional firms can be competitive–especially if they focus on regional service and are charged reasonable fees by rivals when roaming on their networks; he said “It’s just a question of opportunity for the smaller carriers.”

Bernard Lord, President of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, said the Federal government’s approach will not broaden service to rural areas due to current wireless rules in place:

“This is one of the things that has been repeated by certain government officials that this next auction will help rural Canada. Well, not with the rules that are in place,”

The 700MHz wireless spectrum auction application deadline is tomorrow at noon EDT, with players required to have 5% pre-auction deposits submitted to Ottawa. Questions remain whether foreign players will have submitted applications for the auction, set for January 2014.


  • 1His_Nibs1

    “Canada’s Big 3 carriers met with the federal Liberal Party today to coerce Ottawa to ditch its search to attract a fourth national wireless player”
    Thank you Liberal Party of Canada for taking yourselves out of the running for my vote come the next federal election.

  • Sr

    Man proposes.. God disposes..

  • FragilityG4

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to cry to the party that has the majority of seats? Or at the least the official opposition??

  • Shuttaman

    yeah I was leaning towards liberals next election, but not anymore. Gosh do they have to be that stupid?

  • Russell

    I agree. The only thing that the PC Gov is doing right is the wireless auction. I whole heartily had planned on voting Liberal next election, but if they are on the side of the Big 3 then they wont get it.

  • Al

    Gary, you said “ordained” by the liberals. But I read the report which said “organized”. “Ordained” would imply the Liberals demanded the meeting with the Big 3. “Organized” could suggest that either the Liberals initiated the meeting, or that the big 3 wanted the meeting and the Liberals (under obligation as public servants) approved the meeting and set up a time and place. The word “debate” being used, suggests that the Liberals may not have been on board with the perspectives of the big 3.

    My point being, it may be immature at this point to suggest that the Liberals are supporting the big 3 (as others have commented here), as I have not seen anything that actually says that.

  • I meant to say ‘organized’. The typo has been fixed, thanks. #embarassed

  • 1His_Nibs1

    Nice dig, but what part of “Canada’s Big 3 carriers met with the federal Liberal Party today to coerce Ottawa” don’t you understand? The word coerce is pretty straightforward. I don’t know about you, but I generally begin reading an article starting with the first paragraph. Also “organized by Liberal MP Judy Sgro” suggests this has OBVIOUSLY been initiated by a member of the Liberal party. Once again based on this article Al, you need to check your facts. Or re-read. Oh and Al, don’t you mean “it may be premature” instead of “it may be immature”?

  • Al

    You’re arguing with yourself…

    “Coerce” implies it was motivated by the big 3. Yet you then say it was obviously organized by the Liberals.

    “Suggests” and “OBVIOUSLY” are contradictory. And… your assumption cannot be stated as fact, as no specific fact states one way or the other.

    Seriously dude… If you’re going to post something purely for the sake of taking shots at me, you gotta do a hell of a lot better than that. And it wasn’t a “dig” at Gary, as that suggests I was doing what you just attempted to do (and failed miserably at). I was merely bringing his attention to an issue I had with the article – with the primary purpose of saying to others… “let’s not be too hasty in judging the Liberals, as this article by the G&M is too vague”.

    You were correct about my typo. Thanks.

  • T_T ?

    What’s the saying? Three steps forward five steps back? That’s your PC Government.

  • T_T ?

    You’re not seeing the real picture here. The Big 3 have become so powerful that not even any government can stop them. I think that’s the underlying reason of the comment. Like anything, know which battles to pick and the Liberals realize that it is futile because the Big 3 Bullies with the help of the CRTC have successfully prevented and will continue to prevent a fourth main carrier in Canada.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    So why hold a meeting or debate?