Spectrum Blues: Wind Mobile Threatens Boycott

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 22, 2011

The Canadian wireless spectrum auction circus is now in full swing. The drama officially began in March when the CRTC announced the deadline for submissions to Industry Canada as to how to handle the event. Back then, perhaps the most pressing question facing Industry Minister Tony Clement about this whole thing was whether or not he should be setting aside spectrum for the new entrants.

While the new entrants have been requesting the Government to set aside a portion of the 700Mhz, the Big Three have been lobbying to preserve their vested interests. As things stand, the battle for “beachfront” property of the airwaves in the upcoming wireless spectrum auction, is getting uglier with time.

In September, Mobilicity called the Big 3 “squirrels preparing for a 50-year winter” and accused them of hoarding spectrum. And now, Wind Mobile has gone a step further – Canada’s fastest growing wireless carrier is threatening to pull out of a coming government auction of wireless licences unless Ottawa sets some aside for new competitors and clarifies foreign ownership rules.

So, does the spectrum auction gain national significance as the prime 700 MHz airwaves, are absolutely vital to the progress of Canada’s telecommunications industry? I wish I could say that but for now, it’s fast emerging as a ground to play hard ball with the government.

Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian billionaire behind Wind Mobile, says his company doesn’t have enough money in the bank to make a competitive bid in the upcoming federal auction for wireless licences. He says the government must set aside the frequencies for new entrants in order to create and sustain the true spirit of ‘competition’.  Sawiris is partly right – unless some of these airwaves are set aside for just the new players to bid on, I don’t see them being able to match the mighty Big Three to win a bid.

Sawiris is crying foul claiming he was misled by Canadian regulators and has only one advice for prospect international financiers – “Do not invest in Canada.” He claims that foreign investors are mistreated and the government “takes our money and they leave us to the dogs.” Further, he’s calling upon the Canadian government to clarify its foreign ownership rules for good.

To make matters worse, Wind Mobile has no love lost with Public Mobile and the duo are still fighting out a legal battle in the Supreme Court of Canada. Despite these roadblocks, Wind Mobile has gone from strength to strength this year adding 39,000 and 45,000 new mobile phone subscribers in Q1 and Q2 respectively.

If Wind drops out of the upcoming wireless spectrum, it might just be the beginning of the end for Wind Mobile’s reign as the “fastest growing wireless carrier in Canada”.

What are your views on the upcoming spectrum auction? Is Sawiris asking for a fair deal? Or is he playing hard ball in the name of ‘competition’? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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Mobilicity Pitches For U.S.-style ‘Spectrum Screen’ — TheTelecomBlog.com
August 20, 2012 at 5:49 am

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ali November 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm

well HE is right, the big 3 are basically trying to anal anyone who tries to take portion of the market segment from them. they would pay off government officials to get their way (which they have). Its pretty darn obvious. and three cheers for the canadian people who complain about bad service but wont have the balls to stand up against rogers or the other 2 .. some people truly believe signing a contract is good because they get a “free” phone ..I work 5 days a week and was use to pay arround $200 a month average cause of this and that (unknown) charges.. thanks to wind i can save some money. WE ARE HAPPY WITH ROGERS AND THE GOVERNMENT LEECHING MONEY OFF US LIKE PARASITES . right guys?…I blame you

Jason January 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I feel that any company that is willing to invest in Canada is fair. The big three have been bullys to new comers. And we need to have other cell phone company’s in Canada . It is not fair to Canadians for one that we have to pay such high cell phone bills.And now that wind is on the block the big three have done nothing but pick on wind mobile which i am a wind mobile customer and i love wind mobile my bill stays the same and never goes up and it is fair very fair and bell Rogers and telus don’t like that wind is gaining alot of customers cuz they are fair . I feel the government should set aside for new comers for one cuz we need this and for the government to make this such a big deal when our economy is the way it is i look at it like this wind is the new kid on the block but since they have been here they have done alot they have stores that employ Canadians and give them jobs as well Wind mobile if you read this please don’t leave Canada i love your service and i feel it is fair the big three are upset cuz they cant or don’t want to make a plan like you guys have which give unlimited text talk and phone calls. Thanks

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