The Telus–Public Mobile deal was approved in one month, and the Rogers–Mobilicity deal in one week by the Competition Bureau. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the Bell–MTS deal, because there is much silence around it even though seven months have passed since its announcement.
So “what’s the problem”, you might ask, and you would be correct. As Greg O’Brien of Cartt.ca highlights, the above takeovers took wireless competitors out of the market. The major difference compared to the Bell–MTS deal is that Canadians in most regions have the option to “choose” between four wireless carriers.
That would not be the case in Manitoba if Bell received the green light for the MTS takeover: there would be only three carriers in the area to choose from. And, you know, the government has kept on repeating the same old song: they want competition in every area of the country.
Of course, you can assume, correctly, that Bell must have received some okays before placing the $3.9 billion bid for MTS, but the measures it took to mitigate competitive concerns don’t seem to have been enough to satisfy the government, which explains the silence around the deal, according to sources speaking with O’Brien.
When asked what he thinks about the transaction, Innovation, science and economic development Minister Navdeep Bains said:
“We’re currently reviewing that and it would be premature for me to make a determination at this stage,” he said, “but I think if you look at our past track record, clearly when it came to upholding the CRTC ruling with regards to having access for internet service providers to wholesale and fibre to the home, we clearly have shown our commitment to more competition which benefits consumers.”
Since the deal also means there would be a single provincial broadband and telecom provider, there is the prospect of a change in the terms of the deal, which could potentially favour Shaw and its wireless subsidiary now branded as Freedom Mobile.