A Nanaimo-based business owner said a planned move by the federal government to bring new players into the Canadian telecommunications market would have major impacts on the industry.
Tom Harris, whose family owns over 40 Telus dealerships throughout B.C. and Alberta, said the policy change is "fundamentally un-Canadian and wrong."
The federal government intends to auction off valuable blocks of frequency bandwidth to telecommunications companies. The bandwidth is valuable because it travels further and penetrates buildings more easily, and also does not require a service provider to build as many towers, the Toronto Star reported. However, under new rules brought in by the government, new entrants into the Canadian market have the option of bidding on two blocks of the bandwidth, while domestic carriers would be limited to bidding on one.
The government says the move will allow for more competition, and ultimately lower prices for phone plans and other services for Canadian consumers.
However, the three main Canadian players - Bell, Rogers and Telus - have written to the prime minister and asked him to open up bidding for the bandwidth equally to both existing and new carriers. They warned that the planned sale of the wireless market will allow foreign competitors to disproportionately benefit from the change at a cheaper rate, as well as "piggyback" off existing infrastructure. Verizon Wireless is reportedly considering entry into Canada.
Harris said the move would have dire impacts for businesses in Canada --including dealerships like Tom Harris Cellular, which has about 250 employees.
"If a competitor like (Verizon) is allowed to come in and given all of these handouts, they're obviously going to be able to operate at a lower cost structure, and maybe in that sense they could pass on some savings ..." he said.
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