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.”