Bell CEO: Verizon Delay Reveals “Absurdity” of Ottawa’s Wireless Rules
Bell Canada CEO, George Cope, has spoken in regards to news Verizon reportedly delayed its intent to acquire WIND Mobile and Mobilicity, pointing out the delay by the U.S. carrier only shows the “absurdity” of the Federal Governement’s wireless policies, in an interview with the Globe and Mail (Bell owns a 15 per cent stake in the newspaper).
Cope said Verizon’s move “illustrates…the absurdity of loophole three, where a company just possibly waits for a while because there is nobody else to compete to buy a business.” He went on to add Bell would be eager to acquire either wireless entrant start ups, which have close to 900,000 subscribers between them.
The CEO went on to say there is no competition when a company like Verizon would be allowed to acquire and hold onto new entrants:
“The idea that you could just maybe park the assets for a while and leave them because nobody else in Canada could buy them is a rather jerry-rigged structure.”
He continued to say incumbents should be on a level playing field like Verizon and also clarified how Bell, as a Canadian company, continued to invest in Canada while U.S. carriers left town during 2000:
“We just want to be equal to someone else who has not contributed anything to our country. Verizon came and left. When the going got tough in 2000, Verizon and AT&T and Sprint left Canada,”
“Those companies have been in our marketplace before and we had a capital markets meltdown in 2000; you all remember the tech bubble. And it was the Canadian companies that continued to invest in Canada, and the U.S. companies continued to invest, but in their domestic carriers.”
The Globe asked Cope if he had any concerns whether Verizon would seek more concessions from Ottawa. He responded: “I am worried about everything at the moment.”
One Bay Street source told the newspaper Bell has informed analysts it has “plans to bid aggressively for 700 MHz spectrum to ensure that Verizon gets squeezed out.”
The news of Verizon’s reported delay has benefitted the Big Three, as stocks reacted to the move, as Rogers jumped 5 per cent, Telus went up by 4.8 per cent and BCE had gains of 1.7 per cent.
The Bell CEO previously published an open letter in various newspapers across Canada, to warn Canadians about Verizon; this prompted one particular Canadian to cleverly respond directly to Mr. Cope with his own ‘open letter’.
Bell, along with Rogers and TELUS, currently have ongoing PR campaigns aimed at pressuring Ottawa to reverse its wireless spectrum policies, despite Industry Minister James Moore and Prime Minister Stephen Harper reaffirming Ottawa is staying the course on its plans to create a fourth national wireless carrier.