Post Tagged with: "spectrum"

Ottawa Picks Bland Over Bold on Telecom Policy

Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 18, 2012 as Ottawa Foregoes Bold Vision for Telecom After months of delay, Industry Minister Christian Paradis unveiled the government’s telecom strategy last week, setting out the details of the forthcoming spectrum auction and tinkering with longstanding foreign ownership restrictions. Spectrum allocation and […]

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March 22, 2012 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Bland Over Bold: The Government’s New Telecom and Spectrum Policy

Industry Minister Christian Paradis unveiled the government’s plans for the next spectrum auction yesterday with a plan that hits many of the right notes but remains too timid in places. The reliance on spectrum caps is reasonable, but the foreign ownership restriction changes do not go far enough and the decision to forego mandated open access is a blow to Canada’s still-missing digital economy strategy. Overall, the plan (spectrum auction + foreign ownership policy) feels like one that a minority government would release as it seems designed not to generate too much opposition (incumbents and new entrants will see enough that they like that few – WindMobile excepted – will scream too loudly). 

The government’s vision of fostering new competition is somewhat limited. The primary goal appears to be the creation of a strong, national fourth carrier in the market. The spectrum caps and foreign ownership changes are both geared toward giving a fourth player the necessary spectrum and capital to compete with Bell, Telus and Rogers. That suggests consolidation of the current smaller players in the hope of a single, stronger competitor – possibly foreign owned – challenging the incumbents. Given the current environment, it is not clear that this generates significant new consumer choice. 

While the headlines have focused on changes to the foreign ownership rules, the new changes are rather timid. There is an opening for a foreign competitor to enter the marketplace by buying some of the smaller players or aggressively bidding on spectrum, but there is no vision of throwing the market open to full-scale competition that might include a major international player entering the market by buying an incumbent. That would shake up the competitive landscape far more than the incremental, go-safe approach in this policy.

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March 15, 2012 4 comments News

Keeping Score of Canada’s Spectrum Auction

Appeared in the Toronto Star on January 29, 2012 as Details of Canada’s upcoming 700MHz auction expected this week The House of Commons resumes this week with most political attention likely to be focused on the upcoming budget. Around the same time as the budget is tabled, Industry Minister Christian […]

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February 1, 2012 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Liberals Express Support for Spectrum Set Aside

Liberal Industry critic Geoff Regan has expressed his support for the Open Media Stop the Squeeze campaign for a spectrum set aside in the forthcoming spectrum auction.

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January 16, 2012 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Rogers Astroturf Lobby Campaign on Spectrum Foreshadows Battle over Wireless Broadband Competition

The Rogers astroturf lobby campaign against a spectrum set-aside, which sneakily uses people interested in a notification on when LTE may be available in their market, foreshadows a major battle over the rules on the 2012 spectrum auction. Much like the 2007 battle over the AWS auction, the incumbents will argue that the market is already sufficiently competitive and that any set-aside will unfairly advantage new entrants. The 2007 battle included submissions from Rogers and Bell that insisted that Canada was already “extremely competitive” and that consumer prices for wireless services very low. For example, Rogers argued:

Canadian consumers are very satisfied with their choice of Canadian providers, pricing plans and technology options. Consumers are the first to object in the face of poor competition among service providers, yet surveys indicate the exact opposite sentiment.

The company added that “contrary to many statistics that are used and quoted irresponsibly, Canadian consumers fair very well when compared to other countries. Canadian carriers offer
some of the most competitive rates in the world.”

The government rightly rejected the incumbent arguments and established a set-aside that led to new entrants such as Wind Mobile and Mobilicity.

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September 26, 2011 5 comments News