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PM Harper: Ottawa Won’t Change Telecom Rules to Keep Out Verizon

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image via THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Despite ongoing PR campaigns by Rogers, TELUS and Bell, Prime Minister Stephen Harper today repeated Ottawa won’t be changing telecom rules, even though he understands incumbents have to stand up for their shareholders and employees against Verizon coming to Canada, speaking with the Canadian Press in Miramichi, N.B.:

“While I appreciate some companies have interests that are very important, our government’s first priority is the wider Canadian public and Canadian consumers and we are convinced this is where they want to see us go.”

Harper reiterated his government’s stance their priority is to serve the interests of Canadian consumers first and foremost:

“Our government has pursued this very consistently … a policy of fostering greater competition in this industry for the benefit of Canadian consumers over the past few years,”

[…]

“We have seen some results from that policy. We have every intention of continuing that policy in the interest of Canadian consumers and the broad Canadian public, including proceeding with the auction as we have laid out for some time.”

In response to today’s announcement by the Prime Minister, Bernard Lord, the president of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), the lobbying group on behalf of incumbents, said there is still time for Harper to change the rules, which were created for newer entrants and not like U.S. companies such as Verizon:

“If the government wants to open the borders, they must close the loopholes first,” he said.

“It’s simply unfair to let a large American company come in and be able to bid on two of the four spectrum blocks when some of the Canadian companies can only bid on one.”

Josh Blair, chief corporate officer of Telus, said their company welcomes competition but argued allowing a foreign company like Verizon to bid more on spectrum is unfair. He also reiterated the company’s stance foreign telecoms should build their own wireless networks instead of being able to piggyback off existing incumbent networks:

“Given we’ve invested $100-billion in Canada since 2000, we’ve earned the equal right to bid on spectrum against a company with the deep pockets of Verizon,”

Some Canadian wireless users have setup their own websites such as RealFairforCanada.ca to respond to the ongoing rhetoric from incumbents over how Verizon will negatively affect the industry and jobs.

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