Federal rejection of public hearings on the wireless loopholes a missed opportunity

Aug 27, 2013, 19:27 ET from Bell Canada

Conservative MPs block federal Industry Committee from hearing the concerns of the 81% of Canadians who want a level competitive playing field in wireless

MONTREAL, Aug. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell is disappointed in today's decision by Conservative MPs on the House of Commons Industry Committee to block public hearings on their government's wireless policy - including the 3 wireless loopholes opposed by most Canadians that give extraordinary advantages to major US players like Verizon.

"The vast majority of Canadians want a level competitive playing field in wireless and don't want any companies to receive special favours. It's unfortunate that the government has rejected the chance to engage with Canadians on the public stage and show leadership in this critical national debate," said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE.

The 3 loopholes in federal wireless rules give US companies like Verizon these advantages over Canadian companies: 1) preferred access to Canada's crucial wireless spectrum, 2) the right to piggyback on Canadian carrier networks, and 3) the right to acquire struggling companies in Canada that Canadian companies like Bell can't buy.

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to the Prime Minister asking for the loopholes to be closed, and national and provincial organizations of all kinds representing millions of Canadians have also made their concerns about the loopholes public.

In a recent national survey by Nanos Research (www.nanosresearch.com), Canadians said they want a level playing field in wireless. 81% said the government should give no favours to any carrier, foreign or domestic, while just 2% supported the idea of special favours for giant US entrants like Verizon.

"The federal government continues to ignore the growing chorus of Canadians of all kinds who are calling for the wireless loopholes to be closed," said Mirko Bibic, Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer for Bell. "Parliament is the right place to have a fair, transparent and constructive dialogue on a public policy affecting all Canadians. Unfortunately, Conservative MPs just shut down the best opportunity for the concerns of Canadians to be heard."

Bell joins Canadians in calling on Ottawa to close the 3 wireless loopholes by:

  • Letting all carriers bid on two blocks of prime spectrum in the upcoming auction of Canada's 700 MHz airwaves - not just US carriers.
  • Requiring any US carrier that enters Canada to build out to the entire country, including rural areas.
  • Giving Canadian wireless incumbents the chance to bid against the major US companies to acquire wireless startups seeking buyers.

To learn more about this situation, 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.

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SOURCE Bell Canada