Government launches pro-competition telecom website aimed at consumers - Macleans.ca
 

Government launches pro-competition telecom website aimed at consumers


 

A major union is calling on the Harper government to set up a Crown corporation that would be the country’s fourth major wireless carrier called “Canada Wireless” to potentially keep U.S. giant telecom Verizon from coming into the domestic cellphone market.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada is also calling for Ottawa to rescind what it perceives as advantages for Verizon Wireless, which has expressed interest in entering the Canadian market.

The union has thousands of members at BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada (TSX:BCE), one of Canada’s largest wireless carriers and a leading force behind a high-profile campaign to get the Harper government to change its current telecom policy.

“To get out of a crisis it’s important for a government to be able to think ‘outside the box’ and setting up a public telco company would be a smart way to do just that,” union president Dave Coles said.

“If the government is intent on providing consumers with a fourth major carrier in each market it should acquire one of the struggling small telcos, reserve some of the available 700-megahertz spectrum for public use and establish ‘Canada Wireless’ as a Crown Corporation,” Coles said.

The Conservative government has shown no interest in changing its policy of more competition in the wireless industry and launched a website on Friday aimed at winning over consumers.

“We’re putting consumers first and standing up for choice in Canada’s wireless industry — are you with us?” the website asks.

The government website said it has a policy of “pro-competition” and noted since 2008, the average cost of wireless services for Canadians has decreased by nearly 20 per cent.

Telecom analyst Troy Crandall called the public duelling “a bit ridiculous.”

“I don’t know who’s worse — the telecom companies or the government,” said Crandall, of investment firm MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Montreal.

“It’s unsettling to investors and that’s where our concern is,” adding that foreign investors will be encouraged to stay away from investing in Canadian telecoms with these public battles.

Crandall said the idea of the government setting up a wireless Crown corporation would also be met with raised eyebrows by the international financial community.

“Perhaps one of the reasons Canada is having so much trouble getting foreign entrants into our wireless space is maybe because they’re not so happy with the political or policy changes that have been going on in Canada.”

Coles said other governments have taken ownership roles in telecom companies.

He said New Zealand’s government bought a small Internet provider in 2007 to help strengthen that country’s telecom sector and Saskatchewan’s SaskTel is a Crown corporation.

Coles also said a Crown telecommunications company would hire Canadians, continue to build out the industry and return the surplus to the public.

Bell, Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Telus (TSX:T) have launched their own media blitz. The big telecoms and unions representing their workers say Verizon would gain an upper hand in Canada’s wireless market through existing rules for new players that would give the U.S. giant an unfair advantage in the upcoming wireless spectrum auction.

Under the current rules, Verizon would be able to buy two of the four prime blocks of spectrum — radio waves that operate cellphone networks — that are up for auction while Bell, Rogers and Telus can buy only one each.

The Globe and Mail has reported that Verizon is putting off a potential acquisition of Wind Mobile and Mobilicity and contemplating participation in the next auction for wireless spectrum.

If Verizon decides to participate in the auction, rules prevent it from continuing to negotiate acquisition deals until after the January auction.


 
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Government launches pro-competition telecom website aimed at consumers

  1. A roadshow and a website are needed to sell policy to the Canadian public. Yes – sounds like a winner to me.

    How do sell your “pro-competition” when your “adversary’ is also pro-competition.

    The worst thing is – #taxpayer #money #going #down #the #tube

    • Not to mention the money the telecoms are spending on their campaign! Their margins are enormous thanks to the generosity of Canadians without choice. So what do they do? They spend some of the extra cash we give them to convince us it’s best if we keep doing it.

      • I don’t like the telcos media campaign either.

        They are assuming people care about facts. No one cares, they just want lower prices.

  2. This is what happens when the news media has become so compromised. Bell, Telus, Rogers and Shaw now own the majority of radio and television stations in Canada, and have tainted the news reporting about this subject. While Shaw decided to stay out of wireless, they bought a huge chunk of spectrum last auction, which they now want to sell to Rogers. The telcos are now bombarding us with ads on their own radio and TV networks, which they are likely charging back to themselves as costs and then writing off as advocacy and advertising costs, so they can profit their subsidiaries while claiming a business expense. Its almost like printing money.

    Worse still, when they aren’t trying to tug at our heart-strings with their ads by supposed employees who tell us big bad US Verison is stealing our country’s hard earned infrastructure they deceive us with supposed “facts” determined by Scotiabank and other studies. The Scotiabank report (which I have read) has a very lengthy list at the end indicating relationships, conflicts of interest and major money exchanges between themselves and all three telcos. Also, the vast majority of the report only compare the Canadian providers with two US carriers (Verison and AT&T) and totally ignores the vast number of other independent players in the US market who are much cheaper than the two majors, or the Canadian trio. The “study” also fails to mention that Telus, Rogers and Bell own or otherwise control every other national cell phone carrier in Canada (Koodo, Fido, Virgin, etc) with the exceptions of the struggling Wind and Mobilicity, and therefore the supposed competition Scotiabank reports in their study is basically non-existent.

    • Are you serious guy? You’re going to compare a small US providers pricing that maybe has 1-2 local operating areas to bell/telus/rogers that serve the entire country? There is a reason you don’t compare a small company with a lot less overhead to a company like bell/rogers/telus that have way more coverage than some clown provider like wind/mobilicity

  3. That’s the canadian politicians
    They want to sale canadians out to the worlds biggest terrorist group! THE USA

  4. Where’s your editor? The headline about a federal website is completely out of sync with the union/public telco story.