Mark Goldberg

The Canadian Telecom Summit

The Canadian Telecom Summit

Fox Group Dispatch

Gone like the wind

The news that Wind Mobile withdrew from the 700 MHz auction on the eve of its start was a deeply disturbing signal that Canada’s telecom policy framework is broken.

Rita Trichur, in the Globe and Mail, wrote “VimpelCom decided not to fund Wind’s purchase of 700-megahertz spectrum because of ongoing conflict over Ottawa’s foreign investment rules that, to date, have prevented it from taking formal control of the small Canadian carrier.”

For months I have been suggesting that it is time for a reset. As I said to IT World Canada, “Unfortunately Canadians are paying the price for … rules that are simply too unstable, inconsistent and at times incomprehensible.” For too long, our telecom policy framework has looked like the Calvinball rulebook.

As I told Business In Vancouver: “Wind’s withdrawal should be ‘a wakeup call’ that Canada’s telecom policies aren’t working.”

He added it calls into question the Harper government’s telecom policies, including its rules around foreign investment in the Canadian wireless space.

As he points out, Vimpelcom-Wind was the only new entrant in the Canadian wireless space that already has spectrum and the financial wherewithal to acquire more.

“These guys have spectrum, they have an opportunity to be the only new entrant bidder in Canada’s three most prosperous provinces and yet they can’t make the business plan work to continue investing in Canada.”

I told Mobile Syrup this situation is “an unfortunate outcome of a wireless policy where the rules are changing too frequently and are leading to an unstable investment climate.”

We are long overdue for the 5-year review of our telecom policy, recommended by the Telecom Policy Review Panel. We need to understand the market landscape, take stock of the conditions that have inhibited the build out of competitive networks, and develop policies that work for Canadians, encouraging investment in new technologies, products and services.

I get no pleasure from saying “I told you so.”

3 comments to Gone like the wind

  • visitor 546732567

    It should tell us something that a company (Vimpelcom) that does business in
    “Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Laos, Algeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Central African Republic” finds it too difficult to deal with “unstable, inconsistent and at times incomprehensible” Canadian regulations and rule making.

  • Mark S

    Couldn’t agree with comment # 1 more. The government is trying so hard to micro manage the telecom sector for political purposes that it has backfired. Unfortunately, it’s the Canadian public that is going to going to suffer because we will not have a fourth carrier and we will receive less than fair value for the spectrum.

    Canada’s telecom policies are going to be used as a benchmark of what not to do for the foreseeable future.

  • Mike

    It’s painful to watch the government naively try to create a fourth national carrier in a tenth of the time it took for any of the other three to achieve truly national status. Special deals on AWS spectrum, special concessions on foreign control, forced roaming and tower sharing – it’s all so incredibly artificial, unrealistic and unsustainable. I just hope the govt has learned that this approach simply will not work. They have already scared off any potential foreign investors and if they keep playing these silly political games they are going to scare off domestic investors as well.