Competition Bureau Intensifies Apple Probe

by Istvan Fekete on June 16, 2015

Apple is in hot water in Canada – and in some other parts of the world: The Competition Bureau is intensifying its probe against the company over possible unfair, anti-competitive clauses in contracts with Canadian carriers, both incumbents and smaller players, that sell iPhones in the country, reports the Financial Post.

The agency sought approval on Monday from the Federal Court in Ottawa to require Bell, Rogers, Telus, and another five regional wireless carriers to produce “quantitative details” that would reveal how wholesale and consumer iPhone agreements are structured and whether Apple influences iPhone pricing.

By doing so, the Bureau expects to get an exhaustive understanding of how these secretive business arrangements work.

While Apple spokesperson Tara Hendela wasn’t available for comment, Competition Bureau spokesperson Gabrielle Tassé confirmed the existence of the motions filed on Monday, and said these would help the agency’s ongoing investigation.

“There is no conclusion of wrongdoing by Apple Canada Inc. at this time, and no application has been filed with the Competition Tribunal or any other court to seek remedies for any alleged anti-competitive conduct,” Tassé told the Financial Post in an email. “Should evidence indicate that the Competition Act has been contravened, the Commission will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”

If you cast your mind back, the Bureau announced the investigation in March 2014 after it became aware of potentially anti-competitive clauses Apple Canada was using in agreements with Canadian carriers. Last December, the bureau asked Apple to submit documentation.

However, it looks as though the 46,000 records submitted by Apple were not satisfactory, at least this is what the filing dated June 4 reveals. It is “requesting a more comprehensive data set” from the carriers that sell iPhones: Bell Mobility, Rogers, Telus, MTS Inc., Bragg Communications Inc., Saskatchewan Telecommunications, Tbaytel and Videotron.

The Bureau is interested in details about carriers’ obligations to Apple in contracts that began on January 1, 2008, as the obligations “may have or may likely have the effect of lessening or preventing competition substantially in a market”, the court filings state.

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

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