The CRTC this afternoon issued its decision on whether Globalive, a new wireless competitor about to operate as Wind Mobile, complies with the foreign ownership restrictions currently found in the Telecommunications Act. While Industry Canada previously concluded that Globalive met the Canadian control requirements for the purposes of the Radiocommunications Act in its bidding for spectrum, the CRTC has concluded that its ownership and control structure do not meet the Telecommunications Act requirements. The Commission has indicated a number of changes that will be needed to comply with the law. Globalive says it evaluating its options.
It is tempting to blame the CRTC or the incumbent telecom providers (who filed the complaint over the Globalive structure) for this mess, but the real culprit lies with outdated legislation that prioritizes Canadian ownership over a competitive Canadian marketplace. It is the wrong choice. Canadians are desperate for a more competitive wireless marketplace. The issue now falls to Industry Minister Tony Clement, who needs to change the law to facilitate foreign ownership of common carriers – both to facilitate immediate competition and to pave the way for more foreign bidders in the next round of spectrum auctions. The government rightly said it did not matter that a foreign company took control of a former Canadian tech star like Nortel. It should similarly not matter who controls a telecommunications company, particularly in a marketplace starving for competition. The government should amend the law to remove the foreign ownership restrictions now.