Ottawa tries to improve wireless competition
Public Mobile CEO Alek Krstajic
, said in a statement the company is “encouraged that the steps taken … will support our efforts to create a sustainable competitive alternative in Canada” to incumbent carriers.
Mobilicity could not provide an official to be interviewed. Nor was there comment from Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Mobility or Telus Corp.
On the other hand, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) said cellphone customers are unlikely to see any real benefit from the announcement.
The moves made by Paradis to tweak rules around the incumbent carriers’ obligations to new entrants are – with one exception -- likely to be the last before the Nov. 19 auction for spectrum in the 700 MHz band. As such they not only set the conditions for winning licence bidder, along with the government’s change in foreign telecom investment rules it means Ottawa has gone as far as it can go to attract investors for the auction.
That exception is the condition Paradis will set, likely in May, for the ability of new entrants to sell their spectrum to incumbent carriers.
[Who is a new entrant? Companies that have never been carriers and bought spectrum in the 2008 auction: Wind, Mobilicity, Public Mobile, Videotron, Eastlink, Shaw Communications Inc. plus a few others that haven’t launched cellular service and are presumed to be holding spectrum for sale.]
The issue arose when earlier this year Shaw, which decided not to get into the cellular business, struck a deal to sell Rogers Communications an option to buy the spectrum it picked up in the 2008 spectrum auction. Under Industry Canada rules, incumbents like Rogers couldn’t buy AWS spectrum of new entrants for five years. The Shaw deal specifies the handover won’t take place until September, 2014 to meet that condition.
If the deal goes through it denies new entrants the ability to get Shaw’s spectrum. Wind and Mobilicity, which have networks in Western Canada, would be the likely buyers – if they could strike a deal with Shaw.