Canadians demand a level competitive playing field in wireless

  • 81% of Canadians surveyed by Nanos Research say Ottawa should not favour any companies foreign or domestic in the upcoming wireless spectrum auction
  • Just 2% of Canadians think foreign companies like Verizon should be given special advantages like the spectrum and other benefits enabled by the wireless loopholes
  • Canadians of all kinds, pension groups, unions, academics, business and technology associations are all concerned about the cost of the loopholes
  • Always ready to compete in a fair and open marketplace, Bell joins Canadians in calling on Ottawa to ensure a level playing field in wireless

MONTREAL, Aug. 21, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - A national survey released today by Nanos Research found that Canadians overwhelmingly support a level competitive playing field in the wireless industry. The survey results are further evidence that the federal government must close the 3 loopholes in its wireless rules that give a range of spectrum and other benefits originally intended for competitive startups in Canada to giant US wireless corporations like Verizon.

"Canadians have an instinctive sense of fairness and they see that giving such clear benefits to $120-billion US corporations to the direct disadvantage of Canadian companies just isn't right," said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE. "More than 80% of Canadians see no need to give advantages to any company, foreign or Canadian. We agree - Bell has always said we're ready and able to compete on a level playing field. Like millions of Canadians and the growing range of organizations that represent them, we call on the federal government to close the wireless loopholes and support fair competition in Canada."

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper warning of the costs of the wireless loopholes and asking for a fair and open wireless marketplace, and the following organizations representing millions have joined the chorus of concern: Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Canadian Federation of Pensioners, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Business Council of British Columbia, Conseil du Patronat du Québec / Québec Employers Council, Information Technology Association of Canada, Montréal Economic Institute, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, TechnoMontréal, Telecommunications Workers Union, UNIFOR (CEP / CAW), and Union des municipalités du Québec.

The Nanos numbers
According to the national Nanos survey, 81% of Canadians believe government policy for the upcoming auction of 700 MHz wireless spectrum should show no favours to any competitor. Just 2% said foreign companies like Verizon should be given special advantages to enter the Canadian wireless marketplace.

The Nanos Research study of Canadians was commissioned by Bell Canada and TELUS. For the full results including the statistics for all questions, please visit www.nanosresearch.com.

The wireless loopholes
With the 3 loopholes in current federal wireless rules, US giants such as Verizon could enter the Canadian market with 1) a 2:1 advantage over Canadian companies in access to this country's 700 MHz wireless spectrum; 2) the right to piggyback on Canadian networks where they don't want to build their own; and 3) the ability to acquire wireless startups in Canada while Canadian companies like Bell are forbidden from bidding for them.

Despite offering these unprecedented advantages, the government offers no assurances of any significant investment in Canadian jobs or infrastructure by companies like Verizon, no assurances of lower prices (Verizon's wireless customers actually pay more on average than Bell's do), and has negotiated no reciprocal advantages for Canadian companies wanting to enter the US market.

The 700 MHz airwaves being auctioned by Ottawa are a national public resource. The ability of this spectrum to support rapid rollouts of new mobile technology to rural and remote Canadian locations make it the most important since the launch of wireless service in 1985.

A straightforward solution
Considering the importance of the issue and the clear desire of Canadians for a fair approach to wireless, Bell urges the government to close the loopholes by 1) permitting all carriers to bid on two blocks of prime spectrum; 2) requiring US carriers that enter Canada to build out networks to the entire country, as Canadian companies have; and 3) allowing major Canadian carriers the opportunity to bid against the major US companies to acquire wireless startups seeking buyers, with full review by the Competition Bureau.

To learn more about the wireless loopholes, please visit FairForCanada.ca.

About Bell
Headquartered in Montréal since its founding in 1880, Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers, business and government customers with leading TV, Internet, wireless, home phone and business communications solutions. Bell Media is Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital media. Bell is wholly owned by Montréal's BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For more information, please visit Bell.ca.

The Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative is a national charitable program that promotes Canadian mental health across Canada with the Bell Let's Talk Day anti-stigma campaign and significant funding for community care, research and workplace best practices. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.


SOURCE Bell Canada



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