MPs question how Rogers picked Vidéotron as fourth competitor

Executives from Rogers, Shaw, and Québecor appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology Wednesday

Rogers and Shaw logos on an iPhone

The Rogers-Shaw and Vidéotron-Freedom Mobile mergers are close to gaining full approval, but questions still exist.

Concerns were displayed at the House of Common’s industry and technology committee meetings today, with questions directed toward telecom officials. This is the second meeting on the matter. The first took place in March 2022 and was before Rogers and Shaw announced it would sell Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron.

The transaction laid the grounds for several MPs who questioned how and why Rogers was able to place Vidéotron in its coveted role. The Québecor subsidiary is paying $2.85 billion for the wireless spectrum, $1 billion less than Globalive’s $3.75 billion offer.

Tony Staffieri, Rogers’ president and CEO, told MPs they picked the best option that “met the criteria.”

Globalive’s chairman, Anthony Lacavera, was also present at the meeting. The company previously signed a conditional network and spectrum-sharing agreement with Telus that was contingent on Globalive acquiring Freedom.

Despite that not being the case, the telecom giant still appears to lend its support to Globalive. Lacvera recently announced Globalive’s plans to acquire Xplore Mobile in Manitoba and is looking to expand its agreement with Telus.

Lacavera has been a strong voice of opposition against the two mergers. When asked how the competition would differ if Globalive acquired Freedom, Lacavera said Telus wouldn’t be dictating the company’s actions.

“There’s no scenario where Globalive is in bed with Telus, working for Telus. That’s just not with our history,” Lacavera told the committee.

When it came time for Shaw president Paul McAleese to speak, he had some pointed words about Lacavera. Shaw acquired Wind in 2016 from Globalive and rebranded it to Freedom, and that process required Shaw to straighten out several problems.

“I operated what was Wind Mobile after Mr. Lacavera exited the building, and I have a deep understanding of the effort required to fix the many challenges we inherited,” McAleese said. One such problem was Apple “refusing to authorize iPhone on the sale of Wind’s network,” which Freedom secured in 2017.

Some of the attendees asked Innovation Minister Francois Philippe-Champagne not to approve Shaw’s spectrum license transfer to Vidéotron. TekSavvy recently filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to examine the matter.

When asked if Minister Champagne will wait for the CRTC to make a decision on TekSavvy’s application, Éric Dagenais, a senior employee from Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada, said the Minister will make a decision in “due course.” Dagenais said he couldn’t provide any further details.

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