Ottawa Should Prioritize Rural Wireless Coverage Over Fourth Player, Say Incumbents

by Istvan Fekete on September 17, 2013

The Big Three suggest Ottawa should drop its efforts to attract a fourth national player, and focus instead on rural Canadian areas. Representatives of Rogers, Telus and Bell met with federal Liberal Party lawmakers on Monday to pressure the government over its “controversial” (well, that’s their position, anyways) wireless policy.

Although it wasn’t an official meeting, during a two-hour round-table debate organized by Liberal MP Judy Srgo, both parties shared their position about the current state of wireless competition and the most timely question of wireless policy in the light of the looming wireless spectrum auction deadline.

Carriers from Canada — and maybe from some other parts of the world — interested in acquiring a prized 700 MHz wireless spectrum block on January 2014 have to submit their application by noon today, September 17.

The meeting comes after an aggressive media campaign initiated by the incumbents against the government’s effort to make the Canadian wireless market more competitive. You may recall that the price paid for wireless services was one of the main issues (among others such as three-year contracts) Canadians have pointed to when the CRTC asked for consumer input last year.

From the Big Three’s perspective, bringing in a fourth wireless player isn’t a priority, because they control more than 90% of the market, while the smaller startups are struggling for survival. Their priority seems to be subject of rural areas, which, by the way, was one of the key cards played during the media campaign.

So they think Ottawa should focus on rural wireless coverage as well.

And yet again Verizon comes in the picture (although the red US wireless player announced that it isn’t interested in Canada), as Bell, Rogers and Telus representatives have highlighted how small they are compared to wireless giants such as Verizon.

In the end, their position is obvious: small firms should remain small, and focus on the rural market — which involves more costs, of course — while the incumbents are busy building the national network and all urban areas, which bring most of the profits – but that’s a no brainer. Fair enough, right?

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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