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Ottawa stands firm on wireless as big three continue multi-front fight

Mobility

It’s shaping up to be a long, hot summer in Canada’s wireless wars. But instead of fighting each other, Bell, Rogers and Telus have targeted the federal government over competition policy that could allow U.S. giant Verizon to enter the Canadian mobile market.

The carriers have been looking for a change in direction and policy from the government, and have launched an intensive campaign that includes a full-court lobbying press, a public relations campaign with newspaper ads and warnings of job loses should greater competition be allowed, and even a lawsuit by Telus.

However, after a meeting on Monday with the wireless carriers, federal Industry Minister James Moore issued a statement Tuesday that left little wiggle room for a policy change, making clear the government wasn’t buying the big three’s claims that Verizon’s entry into the market through the purchase of a wireless startup would put the competitors at a great disadvantage.

“Our policy has been clear and remains unchanged: greater competition and liberalized investment has meant more choices at lower prices for Canadian families. Our government’s telecommunications policy was not created overnight.  It is the result of a vigorous consultation that started in 2008 and continues today. All players – industry, consumer groups and everyday Canadians – contributed to this policy,”  said Moore. “We are committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for Canadian consumers.  We want all regions of Canada to benefit from competitive market forces, which is why more progress must be made.  We will continue to stay the course by ensuring Canadians benefit from a competitive telecommunications industry.”

Moore’s rejection hasn’t swayed the major carriers. As Howard Solomon of IT World Canada reports, the carriers aren’t giving up the fight. Each of the three released statements vowing to fight on, and indicated they’ve asked for a meeting with the prime minister on the issue. They’re also directing Canadians to a web site they’ve launched, FairForCanada.ca.