CRTC should heed European lessons on wireless competition, says Telus

Canada should heed the lessons learned in Europe about adopting rules intended to keep wireless prices low, the former head of Austria’s telecom regulator has told the CRTC.

GATINEAU, Que. — Canada should heed the lessons learned in Europe about adopting rules intended to keep wireless prices low, the former head of Austria’s telecom regulator has told the CRTC.

European companies are now living with the unintended consequences of stimulating increased competition to keep consumers happy, Georg Serentschy said as hearings continued Tuesday into the health of Canada’s wholesale wireless market.

Forcing lower prices in the short term, he said, has resulted in Europe having among the slowest and least reliable wireless networks in the industrialized world.

“Europe’s telecoms industry — and its entire digital ecosystem — is suffering because over the last two decades European telecom regulators have created rules intended to keep wireless prices low by stimulating increased competition,” said Serentschy.

And if Canadian consumers are not happy with the prices they pay wireless providers now, they would be even more upset with a reduced quality of service, he said.

“I encourage Canada’s regulator not to recycle Europe’s failed policies, but rather to learn from them,” he added.

Serentschy appeared as part of a panel from Telus Corp. (TSX:T), which called on the regulator to maintain its support of the current model.

Telus executives told the hearings there’s a reason why Canada enjoys the third-highest rate of smartphone penetration in the world.

“Canada’s wireless networks are among the fastest and most reliable in the world,” said Telus president and CEO Joe Natale.

Canadian wireless users experience speeds more than twice the typical speeds in Germany and Italy, three times the average speeds offered in the United States and France, and nine times faster than in the U.K., he said.

“This is no accident. It’s the result of a regulatory framework which has stimulated Canadian telecoms to lead the world in private sector wireless investment.”

On Monday, the CRTC heard from the Competition Bureau, which called for new wireless regulations designed to entice a new, fourth national wireless carrier into Canada in order to increase competition and reduce prices.

Industry Minister James Moore has said he’d like to see a fourth wireless firm in the market to compete against Telus, Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and BCE (TSX:BCE).

But Serentschy questions whether Canada, with a population of roughly 35 million people, could support a fourth carrier when Germany and its 81 million people could not.

Adopting new regulations to make allow for a fourth major carrier, he said, would be like “introducing a problem to fix a solution.”

The Competition Bureau, however, told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission there is evidence of the big three wireless carriers stifling competition.

“An additional nationwide carrier would increase choice, expand mobile wireless penetration in Canada . . and drive down the incumbents’ average retail prices by about two per cent,” bureau senior economist Patrick Hughes told the hearings on Monday.

The CRTC is considering adopting regulations aimed at capping the wholesale rates cellphone carriers charge other wireless companies so their customers can roam outside of their home networks.

The Harper government has already passed legislation capping the rates carriers can charge on a wholesale basis at no more than what they charge their customers at the retail level.

However, enacting the law won’t come until after the CRTC reports back from this week’s hearings.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

"They’re angry. They’re frustrated,” Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling says of his members, whose pension assets have been transferred to a provincial Crown corporation. (Photo contributed)
Only 17% of Albertans support draft curriculum: teachers’ association

Fewer than one-in-five Albertans support the provincial government’s draft K-6 curriculum, says… Continue reading

(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe man to apply to withdraw manslaughter guilty plea

Tyler John Campbell wants to change plea after judge rejected seven-year sentence

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being prepared at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the University of Toronto campus in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Canada to get two million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses as provinces expand rollouts

OTTAWA — Canada is scheduled to receive two million doses of the… Continue reading

Members of the Sipekne'katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
U.N. committee to consider racism complaint of N.S. Mi’kmaq fishers against Ottawa

HALIFAX — A United Nations committee on racial discrimination is asking the… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh listens to a question as he speaks with reporters on Parliament Hill, Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Ottawa. Singh says he believes there's a connection between anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests and far-right extremism. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Jagmeet Singh says link exists between anti-maskers and far-right extremism

OTTAWA — Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh is the latest… Continue reading

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Iqaluit elders home evacuated after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

IQALUIT, Nunavut — An elders home in Iqaluit was evacuated on the… Continue reading

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Boost in near-term funds, risk should lure more social-finance investors, Hussen says

OTTAWA — Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen says he expects changes to… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday May 7, 2021. Canada's justice and heritage ministers will be recalled to justify a change to the Broadcasting Act that critics warn could erode the rights of individuals users who upload content to social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Heritage committee to seek answers from ministers on C-10 changes

OTTAWA — Canada’s justice and heritage ministers will be recalled to justify… Continue reading

Young people line up for COVID-19 vaccines at Downsview Arena in Toronto on Monday, May 10, 2021. Ontario has just opened up vaccines for 18+ in high risk areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Vaccine rollouts expand, but COVID-19 caseloads still high in some provinces

There were signs of hope that Ontario and Quebec are making progress… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after providing doses to customers at the Junction Chemist in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. Ontario will likely mix and match COVID-19 vaccine doses in light of uncertain future supply of all the shots approved for use in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario likely to mix 1st and 2nd vaccine doses amid lack of AstraZeneca supply

TORONTO — Ontario will likely mix and match COVID-19 vaccine doses in… Continue reading

Opinion piece
Opinion: O’Toole’s carbon taxes would come with big costs for families

Erin O’Toole’s proposed carbon taxes would cost you more to heat your… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan's decision to travel to Arizona for a holiday has been sharply criticized by many.
Advocate file photo
Jason Stephan: Mothers are unsung heroes during these challenging times

During these challenging times, politicians of all persuasions have recognized “front line”… Continue reading

Most Read