TELUS Takes Ottawa to Federal Court Over Wireless Spectrum Policy


Telus has decided to shift the discussion with Ottawa regarding its wireless policy to another level: it has taken the government to court, asking the Federal court to review the government’s policy on spectrum transfers.

telus saskatoon

The funny thing about this action is that none of its claims have been proved, so it is obvious that the filing is part of the incumbent’s strategy to capture the government’s attention.

So what exactly is Telus claiming? Here is what Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said to the Financial Post on Monday evening:

“We are seeking clarity from the court on the legality of the government’s June 28 decision to re-write the rules for transferring wireless spectrum mid-stream, and to clarify if the minister actually has the legal right to require his personal approval of changes of control of a company.”

“The results of the new policy, if implemented, will be that changes in control of [advanced wireless spectrum] licensees who received spectrum through the set-aside will no longer be permitted after the expiry of the moratorium except with the minister’s approval, contrary to the clear, unambiguous and unqualified representations the minister made in the AWS framework and in the AWS licences that the moratorium would expire after five years,” Telus said to the Globe and Mail.

Telus claims that the sudden change has unfairly disrupted investment plans by changing the rules of spectrum transfers between wireless players. It is true that then minister Christian Paradis rejected the Telus–Mobilicity deal, but it was because the five-year ban had not yet been completed – it is set to expire sometime next year. I don’t recall Paradis saying that he would reject future applications from local incumbents when the ban expired. Paradis then said, that he would review individually each of the submitted applications for wireless spectrum transfer. That’s it.

Moving forward, Telus, Bell and Rogers are afraid that Verizon will enter the market and cherry pick struggling wireless startups and obtain spectrum at a discount. If any new entrant is allowed to “snap them up with no competition, they will get the benefit of that taxpayer-funded subsidy,” Telus spokesman said.

The media has been loud recently due to the incumbent’s campaign against the possible entrance of Verizon, which could finally make Ottawa’s dream come true: a fourth viable national player. Ottawa, however, seems unwavering in the face of media attacks and the incumbent outrage, and will likely proceed with the 700 MHz spectrum auction without any changes to its wireless policy. What the newly installed Industry Minister James Moore has done, though, is to schedule half-hour meetings with wireless players.


  • FragilityG4

    This reminds me of my kid when I tell him its bedtime and he starts to scream and cry …

  • IstvanFekete


  • crosseyed_mofo

    raaaaage against the machine

  • ward09

    I love how each of the big three is playing their role… Bell took out the Star ad, Rogers complained about gov officials courting Verizon in New York, and now this Telus legal action. It is all highly coordinated through their little association, and they are so throughly out of touch that they actually think they can sway public opinion. It is waaaay too late for that.

    The damage they have done to themselves over the years through terrible rate plans and poor service have created an environment where we want to see them all burn. Verizon must think Canadians are crazy the way we are throwing ourselves at them (myself included), after being hated so long at home in the US.

    The fact is that the big three have such an easy ride of protected collusion for so long that they have no idea how to compete. They still have the biggest advantage of all, 95% of Canadian subscribers. If they were serious about changing, they wouldn’t waste time with legal crap and PR campaigns – they would start cutting rates and upping the incentives. Right now. But nope, they are gambling that they can somehow block Verizon or make it unattractive for them to come up here, and maintain their price-fixing ways.

  • FragilityG4

    Aren’t there laws against oligopolies?

    Watch if or when Verizon comes in their new angle will be “We’re Canadian” too bad they treat Canadians like second rate citizens …

    My only fear is that Verizon aligns its plans with the Three in order to reap the benefits of the gouging … Aren’t there laws against oligopolies??

  • ward09

    Well if they want customers they will have to win them from the big three. That means better plans and incentives. I will remain off contract after September and wait to be wooed by someone.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    I’m glad Gary and his crew are keeping us abreast of all of this because I for one am getting more and more enraged by the Big 3’s actions. With every action they take I become more and more determined that should/if Verizon come to Canada (and even if they offer us the exact same plan pricing as the Big 3) I’ll switch to Verizon out of spite just to punish the Big 3 for their actions (in my case Fido a subsidary of Rogers) and I hope some of you on here take the same mindset. We need to send a message that there are consequences for certain actions/behaviours. Maybe a colossal stock price tumble will send that message loud and clear!

  • Cheers! We’re trying to keep everybody informed here 🙂

  • ward09

    That’s exactly how I feel. The only thing the big 3 can do to keep me is DRAMATIC improvements to there plans and incentives. Even if they do this, I will hold my nose when resigning.