Due to recent changes to foreign ownership rules, U.S. telecom giants such as AT&T or Verizon may be looking to acquire WIND Mobile and step in to the Canadian wireless market, according to a report by The Huffington Post. With new foreign ownership rules, U.S. wireless carriers can now own and operate a telecom company in Canada. Sources are also claiming that WIND’s Amsterdam-based parent company VimpelCom has already started a process to sell its subsidiary.
It has been tough for new entrants to make inroads into Canada’s wireless market, with the ‘Big 3’ carriers, Bell, Telus and Rogers, owning about 95% of the market. Previous rumours have also suggested that one of the ‘Big 3’ would acquire WIND mobile. However, if a U.S. telecom giant succeeds in acquiring the small Canadian wireless player, it would become the first American company to own a wireless telecom company in this country after years of foreign ownership restrictions. The new regulations allow foreign ownership of companies with 10 per cent or less of market share.
The loosening of those ownership rules has made Wind more attractive to players outside Canada. Wind has since had “inquiries” from major wireless companies in the U.S., Asia and Europe, the source said.
A Wind takeover by a large U.S company such as Verizon or AT&T could give Canada a powerful fourth player, a scenario that some industry-watchers say would shake up the industry and could benefit Canadians by bringing more choice and lower prices to the market. Earlier today, T-Mobile announced that it will be getting its own version of the iPhone 5 to accommodate the network’s AWS LTE spectrum bands, fuelling rumours that the company may be one of the contenders for acquiring WIND Mobile.