Telus Loses Court Battle Over Ottawa’s Spectrum Auction Rules


Telus has lost a fight with the federal government over its policies to stimulate more competition in the $20 billion wireless market. The federal court dismissed Telus’s request for a judicial review of the decision.

The Vancouver-based telco was also ordered to pay Ottawa the cost of pursuing its legal action, stopping the company’s efforts to fix one of the three “loopholes” in federal wireless policies.

Justice Cecily Strickland’s decision comes less than two weeks before the 700MHz auction bid starts. Ottawa has decided to cap the amount of premium 700 MHz spectrum that the big three carriers can purchase, to one block a piece.

As of August, James Moore took over as industry minister and the Big Three were mixed up in their “Fair for Canada” campaign against Ottawa’s wireless policies.

In issuing her Jan 2. decision, the judge stated the industry minister “correctly and reasonably exercised his authority” on the matter. “In conclusion, the Minister had the authority to impose conditions on spectrum licences for the 700 MHz band, including spectrum caps applicable to large wireless service providers such as Telus,” wrote Justice Strickland.

James Moore’s director of communications, Jessica Fletcher, said:

“We are pleased that the court has rejected this attempt to block our government’s upcoming spectrum auction and our drive for greater competition in Canada’s wireless market. We are also pleased that Telus has been ordered to repay taxpayers for the costs of this unnecessary and baseless legal challenge.”

It is still unclear how much money Telus will have to pay and the company has no plan to appeal the decision.

The second of the three “loopholes” is the inability for the big three to purchase small carriers, such as Mobilicity. The third “loophole” is the ability for new carries to use existing infrastructure allowing them to provide uninterrupted service to customers outside of their own areas.

[via The Globe and Mail]