June 4th, 2013: Former Industry Minister Paradis on the reasons why the government decided to axe TELUS’ $380 million bid for Mobilicity:
“Our government is clearly committed to encouraging competition in the wireless market so that Canadian families will benefit from cutting-edge technologies and services at affordable prices. I believe the basis of a strong economy is a competitive marketplace and consumer choice. We will continually review the regulations and policies that apply to the wireless telecommunications sector to promote at least four wireless providers in every region of the country so that Canadian consumers benefit from competition.”
Prominently noted on Industry Canada’s “More Choices” website, the government states that “Canada’s largest wireless companies currently hold more than 85% of Canada’s wireless airwaves and hold more than 90% of the Canadian market. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more choice?”
Rogers, Bell and TELUS have about 25 million wireless subscribers, while other carriers make up for the remaining three million. Apart from the Big Three, most provinces already have four carriers in play, such as MTS in Manitoba, SaskTel in Saskatchewan, Videotron in Quebec, and Eastlink in Nova Scotia. However, the goal for the government, especially with the 2008 spectrum auction, was to increase competition and bring more choice to Canadians. The agenda was always to have a fourth national carrier.
February 12th, 2014: Industry Minister James Moore speaking to the Canadian Press about wireless competition in Canada:
“It would be irresponsible for us to have a public policy that wasn’t setting in place the parameters where more competition could emerge, if the market can support it. Whatever dynamic emerges that the marketplace can support, the marketplace will decide that.”
Certainly seems that the current 700 MHz spectrum auction — the beachfront of all spectrum — is possibly not turning out to be as fruitful as the government once thought. While there is no indication of who has bid, nor who’s won the various spectrum blocks, the comment by James Moore now shows that customers will decide if more competition is needed in the a specific area, not the commitment from the government to ensure there is “more choice in Canada’s wireless market and to defend consumers.”