Telus Loses Legal Challenge of Ottawa’s Wireless Policy

by Istvan Fekete on January 6, 2014

Canada’s No. 2 wireless carrier, Telus, has lost an important legal battle against the government over its policy that aims to stimulate competition in the struggling wireless market.

The Globe and Mail reports that the Federal Court has dismissed Telus’ request for a judicial review of a government decision to limit the amount of “prime” spectrum that incumbents are allowed to purchase during the forthcoming wireless spectrum auction of the 700 MHz frequency.

Furthermore, the carrier has been ordered to pay the costs of pursuing its legal action. In other words, game over for Telus, at least in its efforts to close the alleged “loopholes” in Ottawa’s wireless policy.

The decision comes just in time: the wireless auction starts in less than two weeks, on January 14, 2014. The lawsuit appears to be a marketing move from Telus, part of the incumbents’ “war” against the government that started in the middle of last year, as rumours surfaced that Verizon might enter the Canadian wireless market.

The government decided to limit the amount of premium 700 MHz spectrum that incumbents could purchase to one block apiece. New entrants such as Wind Mobile, however, are allowed to buy up to two blocks of spectrum. The decision was first made public by ex-industry minister Christian Paradis back in 2012 and reinforced last year.

What’s interesting is the U-turn of Telus: when the cap was announced in 2012, Canada’s No. 2 carrier first supported the idea, but last August it filed a lawsuit against the government claiming the minister lacked the authority to apply caps.

In issuing her Jan 2. decision, the judge stated the industry minister “correctly and reasonably exercised his authority” on the matter. “In conclusion, the Minister had the authority to impose conditions on spectrum licences for the 700 MHz band, including spectrum caps applicable to large wireless service providers such as Telus,” wrote Justice Strickland.

Justice Cecily Stickland’s decision could prove an important precedent, because this is only the first of the two lawsuits Telus has filed against Ottawa’s wireless policy.

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

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