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

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Bharat Masrani, CEO, TD Bank Group speaks at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Shares in metals and mining companies have rebounded sharply

A worker carrying a disinfectant sprayer walks past a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft, after cleaning another plane at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
WestJet to lay off undisclosed number of pilots amid labour negotiations

Layoff notices to go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

Canada has ordered 24 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend Sunday Service, in Abbotsford, B.C., Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. A legal advocacy group challenging British Columbia’s COVID-19 restrictions on worship services and public protests is scheduled to be in court today arguing for the church and others that COVID-19 restrictions violate their charter rights. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Churches in court to challenge British Columbia’s COVID-19 health orders

Calgary-based organization says it represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities in the province

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Team Alberta as second Shannon Birchard, right, and lead Briane Meilleur sweep in the semi-final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson wins second straight Canadian women’s curling championship

Einarson and her teammates celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
With loved ones and pets, Globes winners embrace cozier show

Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Schitt’s Creek nabs two Golden Globes for its final season

Catherine O’Hara named best television actress in a musical or comedy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Most Read