The great wireless battle of 2013 continues to unfold with Bell, Rogers, and Telus – the big three incumbents that dominate the Canadian market – calling for “fairness” in Canadian telecom policy. Ben Klass posted an exceptional response to Bell over the weekend that provided some perspective on Canadian spectrum allocation, while Peter Nowak once again took on Telus’ speaking points on the issue. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the incumbents concerns with the policy represent a notable shift, since they described it as “thoughtful and balanced” when it was unveiled by then-Industry Minister Christian Paradis in 2012. The same companies now say the rules will create a “bloodbath” since they fear the potential entry of Verizon Communications, a U.S. telecom giant with the power to shake up the Canadian market.
While the incumbents have framed the issue around fairness and a “level playing field”, the reality is that Canadian policies are strikingly similar to those found in many other countries that have sought to encourage greater competition. Moreover, the arguments around level playing fields conveniently omit the myriad of advantages enjoyed by the incumbents.