Two of Canada’s biggest wireless providers, Bell Canada and Rogers, have come out in opposition to legal loopholes that would allow foreign carriers to buy up smaller Canadian carriers and gain an unbalanced advantage.
Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed said he welcomes competition but wants a level playing field in the market. He added that it isn’t fair that big carriers like Verizon could be allowed to buy small carriers while large Canadian carriers are barred from doing so.
Bell took it a step further in a press release, saying Verizon had already indicated it was ready to exploit Canadian federal regulations originally designed to assist competitive startups. Specifically, Bell pointed to rules that would allow Verizon to buy twice as much spectrum as Canadian carriers in an upcoming Canadian spectrum auction. Canada next year is selling four blocks of 700 MHz spectrum and Bell says loopholes would allow U.S. carriers to buy more spectrum for less and possibly shut some Canadian carriers out of auction entirely.
In addition, Bell points to laws that would grant a U.S. carrier like Verizon free access to existing network infrastructure and allow them to acquire smaller Canadian wireless companies, like Wind, at cut-rates and gain access to all assets including wireless spectrum. Bell argues that the value of those startups falls because the Canadian government bars larger Canadian carriers from buying them.
Bell concludes by urging Ottawa to close all the loopholes by extending the same auction bidding rights to all carriers, requiring foreign entrants into the Canadian wireless market to build out national networks and allowing Canadian companies to bid on small Canadian wireless providers.
Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters last month reported on Verizon’s $600 million bid for Wind and said that Verizon was also interested in rival Canadian startup Mobilicity. The major Canadian carriers also bid for Wind and Mobilicity but the Canadian government shut those offers down in hopes of boosting competition and bringing a fourth carrier to the ecosystem.
The Reuters report added that any foreign company hoping to enter the Canadian wireless market would likely do so by September 17, the deadline to be eligible for next year’s spectrum auctions.