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Competition Bureau Finds Rogers, Telus and Bell Work Together, Still Approves MTS Deal

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Competition bureau

With the Bell–MTS deal now official, wireless competition in Manitoba has just taken another hit; and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains has agreed with that, law professor Michael Geist says.

Bains gave the green light to the acquisition deal, which means wireless services in Manitoba will soon cost much more, without taking the Competition Bureau’s findings into consideration. But it wasn’t just Bains, I would argue; it was also the Competition Bureau that agreed to the Bell–MTS deal, despite having concluded the following:

“as a result of coordinated behaviour among Bell, TELUS and Rogers, mobile wireless prices in Canada are higher in regions where Bell, TELUS and Rogers do not face competition from a strong regional competitor. Conversely, the Bureau concluded that where Bell, TELUS and Rogers face competition from a strong regional competitor, prices are substantially lower. The Bureau concluded that the lower prices are caused by the presence of a strong regional competitor who can disrupt the effects of coordination among Bell, TELUS and Rogers.”

To green-light the deal, the Bureau has asked Bell to sell six retail stores, 24,700 subscribers and 40 MHz of spectrum to Xplornet, a satellite internet provider. By doing so, another wireless carrier theoretically enters the market, so we can say hurrah to competition again.

But that’s not how it goes in reality. First, Xplornet has agreed to acquire only 30 MHz of spectrum, and you may already know that becoming a competitor of the Big 3 means much more than owning a bit of spectrum – you may remember what happened to Public Mobile. And to Mobilicity.

So when Geist says Bains was facing a sure thing, the same goes for the Competition Bureau, as they have concluded that “mobile wireless prices in Canada are higher in regions where the Big 3 don’t face competition from a strong regional competitor. Now let’s wait and see how many decades it takes for Xplornet to become that strong regional competitor.

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  • JB

    The only shot we have of getting consumer rights respected in this environment is if the CRTC requires an absolute end to locked devices and unbundling of device balances/incentives (bill segregation). It needs to be dead simple to port your number and device to a new provider. If providers want to provide cheap or free devices, then all the better, but they should not be permitted to opaquely blend those costs into monthly bills.

  • Bill

    I dare say, the only real way of getting rid of this problem is for the Competition Bureau to outlaw regional pricing. If the Big 3 want to make huge markups in most of Canada, then fine, they run the risk of losing cx in places that have regional competition. Let see what they would find more beneficial to them.

  • SOB

    In the US you now get unlimited data for $80/month. Over here $80 gets me 4GB/month

  • It’s Me

    That might work, but it’s a moot point soon since MTS is dead, Sasktel is toying with selling out and videotron would love nothing less than the big 3 raising their prices so they can too. That leaves really only TBayTel and they are just so small so as not to make much differnce on their own.

  • It’s Me

    CRTC won’t do jack. Competition Bureau won’t do jack. Under the Cons they made some small steps and that was with a government that ostensibly made wireless a priority. Under Justin it’s not even on the radar.

    Just look at this article. To paraphrase “we know Canadians will get screwed here but oh well.”

  • JB

    I begrudgingly agree.

  • Tim

    I pay $55 CAD for 8GB/month. $62.15 after tax

  • raslucas

    I get why they didn’t stop the merger. I don’t think it’s really their place to step in for that, but they really should take a look at these findings and take some kind of action. Make it mandatory for carriers to unlock phones for free after 90 days. Make regional pricing illegal. And finally, how about fine the carriers for anti-trust violations, since they the competition bureau pretty much just admitted that they are colluding.

  • Lakh Jhajj

    are you in Manitoba or Quebec ? if yes Bell is coming after you

  • Cornfed710

    I pay $38 for 4gb with Public Mobile

  • Tim

    I’m in neither Manitoba or Quebec.

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