BIoT Canada

National coalition calls for greater competition in wireless

Canada needs to permit new competitors in the wireless sector to ensure consumers are offered lower prices and adva...

May 11, 2007  

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Canada needs to permit new competitors in the wireless sector to ensure consumers are offered lower prices and advanced services, which other countries already enjoy, a new coalition created to build support for competition in the Canadian wireless sector said today.

In its final report released in March 2006, the Telecom Policy Review Panel identified the need for a more efficient and vibrant wireless industry with more competition.

“Currently, three companies control the entire Canadian market and that has led to higher prices and less advanced technologies than are common in Europe, the U.S. and Asia,” said Luc Lavoie, coalition spokesperson and executive vice president of Quebecor. “The solution for this is very simple more competition will help lower prices and introduce the technologies that Canadians will need to compete globally in the wireless economy.”

The coalition said it will be reaching out to businesses and consumers to make them aware of the government’s process and to the fact that Canada lags behind the rest of the world in this sector in terms of price and technology.

“Communications costs are a significant issue for business, especially small businesses,” said Chris Peirce, chief regulatory officer of MTS Allstream.

“For many Canadians it would actually be cheaper to buy a U.S. plan for use in Canada than to buy from our existing national providers. Clearly, Canadians should be able to expect more competitive choice in wireless services.”

The coalition expressed surprise that Canada’s largest telecom providers are lobbying the government not to create conditions that could allow new players into the market, claiming that this would constitute a subsidy or unfair competition.

“The three largest players have already received favourable treatment from the government,” said Lavoie. “For example, in 1984 they were granted frequency free of charge, without auction or any other fee. In 1995, they were granted an additional 10 MHz and no spectrum was granted to new players.”

Federal Industry Minister Maxime Bernier issued a consultation document on the future of advanced wireless services on Feb. 16th. Comments from interested parties are due by May 25 .

The Coalition for Wireless Competition, launched by Videotron Ltd., MTS Allstream and Mipps Inc., said it plans to raise awareness over the coming weeks encouraging Canadian consumers and businesses to make their views known and tell the government they want genuine competition in wireless services in Canada.

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