Rogers fears that opening the telecom market to foreign companies would turn it into a “branch plant”

by Andrew Roach on January 24, 2014

Over the past couple of years, the Canadian telecom market has started to welcome foreign investors to back national providers in a bid to improve competition in the domestic industry.

The move has been met with mixed reaction from industry professionals however a senior figure from Rogers has spoken out against it in fears that it could be detrimental for customers throughout the country.

After speaking at a CIBC conference in Whistler earlier this week, executive vice president of emerging business at Rogers Inc Edward Rogers stated that the Canadian market could turn into a “branch plant” if foreign owners fully took over national providers.

It’s yet another mixed signal from the country’s largest network provider who have been a little apprehensive towards foreign ownership despite giving it backing in the public eye.

In much of Rogers’ comments, he elaborated that the current system is what works best for customers across the country believing it gives everyone strong choices no matter where they live in the country. He reflected on this by telling the audience: “The model we have right now, I believe, allows Canadians to have the best wireless industry, the best cable industry and some fantastic media assets in Canada.

After that, the Rogers executive revealed his concerns on the issue thinking that many foreign companies would give their Canadian subsidiaries low priority which could ultimately hurt innovation and rural coverage throughout the country.

This was elaborated on in the speech where he stated: “I don’t think there’s any formula where any of these companies are owned outside Canada and they do better for customers. I think you could argue that if we were a branch plant, that Canada would be last…. Is Canada going to continue to innovate and are we going to have wireless coverage in rural areas if owned outside of Canada? My belief is not.”

It’s an interesting stance taken by one of the Rogers family members as it once again shows the reluctance of many of the big networks to accept foreign companies into the national set-up.

After all, many of the companies campaigned heavily against Verizon’s potential entry last year despite many of the Big Three saying that didn’t have a probem with overseas companies entering the fray in the next few years.

However, it’s an issue that has really yet to cause any problems for the major networks with Wind Mobile being the only provider in the country to have any foreign backing influencing their decisions.

It seems that the matter is one that does still divide opinions across the telecom industry in Canada with feelings of both optimism and caution rife among network providers across the country.

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