According to the Globe and Mail, the lobbying efforts to prevent Verizon from entering Canada have reached new heights as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which consists of 150 leading Canadian executives, have written a letter directly to Prime Minster Stephen Harper, urging him to rethink wireless rules which give Verizon advantages over incumbents Rogers, TELUS and Bell:
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives delivered a letter to the Prime Minister late last week asking him to rethink rules that president John Manley says would give Verizon, which is considering expanding into Canada, a preferential right to buy wireless spectrum.
It now appears corporate Canada is questioning Ottawa’s role to change the wireless market here to favourite U.S. giant Verizon. While the letter doesn’t specifically mention Rogers, TELUS or Bell, it does refer to ‘Canadian companies’ which would be discriminated against. Excerpts are below:
“Your government has clearly indicated its desire for increased competition in the telecommunications sector,” Mr. Manley wrote in a July 26 letter to Mr. Harper. “While we as a council support that objective, we also believe that public policy should not discriminate against Canadian companies in favour of large foreign operators.”
“Large foreign firms wishing to enter the Canadian market should be subject to the same infrastructure build-out requirements that apply to incumbent Canadian firms,”
In an interview with the Globe, Manley says “there is no level playing field here,” which seemingly reflects the past arguments we’ve heard from CEOs of Rogers, TELUS and Bell. He continued to say “we favour open markets and competition – bring it on – but don’t tie somebody’s hand behind their back.”
Interestingly enough, Manley–who was a former industry minister responsible for telecom policy–says the council normally avoids sector-specific issues, but only gets involved when matters have wider implications for the economy or business community, such as this specific case with wireless rules favouring Verizon.
The public relations and lobbying efforts are at full steam ahead by our incumbents and now the business community to prevent Verizon from entering Canada. The situation over Verizon is so ‘dire’ for incumbents, just the mere mention of Verizon coming to Canada caused stock prices to drop last month. With the 700MHz spectrum auction upcoming this winter, incumbents are pushing for Ottawa to change the rules and postpone the auction, so Verizon cannot bid on two blocks on spectrum, unlike the ‘Big 3’.