Telus Warns CRTC: Overregulation Could Harm Wireless Industry Like in Europe

The week-long CRTC hearing continues in Gatineau, Quebec, and today Telus had its turn to present its argument on the wholesale wireless industry.

Telus brought a panel of experts, including Georg Serentschy, the former Austrian telecom regulator, who explained how overregulation in Europe has harmed the industry as a whole (via The Canadian Press):

“Europe’s telecoms industry — and its entire digital ecosystem — is suffering because over the last two decades European telecom regulators have created rules intended to keep wireless prices low by stimulating increased competition,”

He followed by saying “I encourage Canada’s regulator not to recycle Europe’s failed policies, but rather to learn from them.” He also questioned whether Canada’s population of 35 million can support a fourth wireless carrier when 81 million people in Germany could not, as a fourth carrier is like “introducing a problem to fix a solution.”

Telus CEO Joe Natale said “Canada’s wireless networks are among the fastest and most reliable in the world,” citing how speeds here are double that of Germany and Italy, three times that of speeds in the U.S. and France and nine times faster than those in the U.K.

“This is no accident. It’s the result of a regulatory framework which has stimulated Canadian telecoms to lead the world in private sector wireless investment.”

The carrier also said in a scenario where regulation is enforced to lower wholesale rates, the company would have to cut back investments, starting with rural areas.

Telus also told Cogeco to go buy its own wireless spectrum from the upcoming set-aside from new entrants (Shots. Fired).

Earlier in the day, Eastlink told the CRTC despite being successful with their wireless network built on roaming on Big 3 networks, it still can’t get the prices it wants, noting it require help from regulation.

When asked why the would enter the wireless market if they couldn’t get preferred rates from incumbents, the Halifax-based company said they “We miscalculated consumer willingness to pay varying roaming rates. We didn’t anticipate incumbents’ changes to plans,” which saw roaming rate prices 4-5 times higher than they expected.

If you want to read all of Telus’ arguments, their filing can be viewed here.

Yesterday, the Competition Bureau, speaking at the CRTC hearings, told the regulator the high costs of wireless charged by the Big 3 are “not in the public interest.”