A Toronto wireless upstart will ask the Federal Court to overturn Ottawa’s decision allowing newcomer Wind Mobile to start business despite its heavy foreign ownership.
In a press release issued late Friday, Public Mobile said it believes the federal cabinet has “thrown out the foreign ownership laws of Canada” with last month's ruling that Wind Mobile's parent Globalive Wireless Management Corp. qualifies as as Canadian controlled company.
In the press release Public Mobile's head suggested what it wants is the same break Wind Mobile got from the cabinet.
“We believe cabinet’s decision is unfair to other wireless carriers, especially new entrants like Public Mobile that have played by the rules and secured substantial Canadian investment,” CEO Alek Krstajic said in the release. “Furthermore, while we respect the Government’s authority we believe what it has done amounts to a change in law, and only Parliament can change Canadian law.”
“And we want to be very clear that we are not opposed to Globalive’s presence in the marketplace so long as the same rules are applied to everyone. But the government’s decision does not create a level playing field. It has made two sets of rules – one for Globalive and its Egyptian owners and one for everyone else. We are simply asking that all wireless providers be treated equally and given the same access to capital.”
However, in its application Public Mobile is only asking the the court to quash the cabinet's Dec. 10 order. It isn't clear what effect that would have on the operation of Wind Mobile, because in effect it would then be operating in voilation of the Canadian ownership and control provisions of the Telecommunications Act.
Public Mobile says cabinet's conclusion that Globalive isn't Canadian controlled was reached "in a perverse and capricious manner." In addition, it says the cabinet erred in law by concluding that the ownership and control provisions of the Telecommunications Act should be interpreted in a way to encourage foreign investment and to enhance competition.
The move comes weeks after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it is conducting a closed-door review of Public Mobile’s ownership to see if it meets the demands of the Telecommunications Act. While Industry Canada has given Public Mobile its spectrum licence, the CRTC gives out wireless carrier licences.
Last fall, after a public hearing, the CRTC refused to give a carrier licence to Wind Mobile’s parent company, Globalive Wireless Management Corp. of Toronto because of the heavy influence of the company’s minority partner, Orascom Telecom SAE of Egypt.