The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the case brought against WIND Mobile on Thursday, tossing out Public Mobile’s complaint that the new carrier was foreign-owned.
The fun started in 2009 when the CRTC ruled that WIND Mobile didn’t have the right to launch a national wireless service in Canada because it violated the country’s foreign ownership laws. Those laws have since entered the process of alteration, of course, but at the time WIND was considered a foreign entity of sorts and was controlled by Egypt’s Orascom. Orascom, for those scoring at home, has since been purchased by VimpelCom.
Cabinet flew into action and reversed the decision, allowing WIND Mobile to roll out its network and get into business.
Public Mobile, which got into business at around the same time as WIND, objected to the reversal.
“WIND is interested in fighting in the marketplace…not in fighting in courtrooms,” chairman Tony Lacavera said. “We’re extremely pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision…I feel really good now about approaching our investors and new potential investors that can back us now with confidence that all of our regulatory and legal issues are fully and finally behind us.”
Obviously the decision has little actual content, what with the changing of foreign ownership regulations by the Tories. As I wrote in March, “the government will lift restrictions on investment in firms that hold less than 10 percent of the market share with regard to revenue.”
The foreign ownership question has haunted Canada’s telecommunications sector for some time now, with conservatives generally saying that they’d planned to open things up as soon as they could. The established players stated their desires to have things opened across the board, but that’s not part of the plan.
Regardless of the legal movements and ownership rules, Canada’s new telecommunications companies have struggled to get much of a foothold in the market. The oligopoly of the usual suspects – Bell, Rogers, Telus – has continued to carry out its nasty business on Canadian consumers in droves. Whether WIND or Public Mobile or any other new carrier can make an impact remains to be seen, of course, but it probably wouldn’t be wise to hold one’s breath.