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Rogers-Shaw Merger Should Not Include Freedom Mobile, Say Telecom Experts

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On Tuesday, telecom experts testified in the third day of hearings regarding the Rogers-Shaw merger, arguing should the deal go through, it should not include Freedom Mobile.

University of Ottawa Law Professor, Michael Geist, told MPs Freedom Mobile, owned by Shaw and also the fourth-largest wireless provider, should not be sold to Rogers, as it would lower competition.

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“While some seek to justify it or explain it away, the simple reality is that Canadians already pay some of the highest prices for wireless services in the world,” testified Geist, according to BNN Bloomberg.

“If this merger is approved, the situation is likely to get worse. Indeed, when Rogers promises that it will not raise prices for Shaw Freedom Mobile customers for three years, it effectively signals that it will be raising them as soon as the clock runs out on that time,” added Geist.

Geist told committee members said the best outcome would be for Shaw and Freedom Mobile to remain independent companies to compete with incumbents Rogers, Telus and Bell. He said Shaw is an “innovative competitor” and by merging with Rogers it would be a loss for consumers.

MPs also heard from Ben Klass, senior research associate at the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project and board member at the Internet Society Canada Chapter as well.

Klass told committee members a fourth wireless carrier for every region of the country should be maintained.

“What we’re left with is Freedom (in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.) Videotron in Quebec, Eastlink in the Maritime provinces,” said Klass. He said a Rogers-Shaw merger, if allowed, “would be tantamount to the government’s admission that they’re no longer interested in supporting real competition in this space.”

 

The Rogers-Shaw deal still requires approval from regulatory bodies in Canada, including the Competition Bureau, which testified to MPs on Wednesday, but didn’t elaborate other than they would have a “thorough” review of the proposed merger. The CRTC said they would hold a public consultation on the Rogers-Shaw merger.

Rogers and Shaw executives previously told MPs they believed merging would increase competition, instead of decreasing it, and were roasted by MPs for saying so.

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