Rogers, Telus and Bell to Continue Fight vs Ottawa’s Wireless ‘Loopholes’

Despite Verizon no longer interested in Canada, The Globe and Mail reports our wireless incumbents have not declared victory just yet, but rather will continue to pursue their fight against the Federal government’s spectrum rules and their “loopholes”.

Incumbents are concerned with rules that will allow new carriers to share their networks, even though usage would be determined by commercially negotiated rates.

Other worries include spectrum rules which would allow new entrants to bid on two blocks of 700MHz spectrum in January, whereas the Big 3–which currently own 85% of spectrum in Canada–would be limited to one.

Rogers, Telus and Bell fear another large foreign carrier could jump into the upcoming wireless spectrum auction now that Verizon is out of the picture.

Wednesday morning, Industry Minster James Moore told Reuters other foreign firms might take a look at the upcoming auction, but decline to elaborate further to reporters, speaking in Saint-Hubert, Quebec:

“We are not changing dates, we are not changing our policy, we are moving forward and we’ll see which firms choose to present in the auction in January,”

Stockwell Day, (former Conservative Party MP) and now director for Telus, said the following:

“Verizon was just a focal point for the fact that … the regulations regarding the auction need to be updated,”

“In the broader marketplace, nobody can be exactly certain of the strategy or intent of another player,” he added. “And there could always be, depending on any company and their board, there can be an 11th-hour resolution to make a swift move on something. So, that always leaves that element of unpredictability there.”

Sources tell the Globe AT&T Corp., T-Mobile, Vodafone Group PLC, Telenor Group and NTT Docomo have examined the Canadian wireless market, similar to what was revealed last month.

AT&T in the U.S. had considered acquiring newer entrants WIND Mobile and Mobilicity but concluded gaining meaningful marketshare from incumbents would  be not possible, along with the concerns over support for a fourth carrier in Canada.

Telus’s chief corporate officer, Josh Blair, said yesterday the company remains interested in acquiring spectrum from struggling entrant carriers, if given the chance to bid; current regulations prevent incumbents from acquiring entrant spectrum, to allow entrants to compete against the Big 3.

Blair told the CBC yesterday the ‘Fair for Canada’ campaign has been a success, despite critics saying the ads have caused backlash.

Earlier today, a report stated Mobilicity plans to transfer its 200,000 users to WIND Mobile, as the former deals with looming bankruptcy, with a possible shut down by the end of the month. WIND has said it has ambitions to become the nation’s fourth wireless carrier.

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