Verizon’s exit leaves Harper with tricky wireless file
With the deadline to sign up for a spectrum auction looming and a major U.S. company out of the running, it looks doubtful anyone will burst onto the scene to compete against Bell, Telus and Rogers.
So with Verizon out, what now for a Conservative government that has long staked its ground on getting a fourth player into Canada’s wireless market?
Companies have until Sept. 17 to put down a deposit to participate in the auction of wireless spectrum, which will be held in January.
One route might be to delay the auction — an option Industry Minister James Moore’s office says it isn’t considering.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose says putting off the auction would be a politically tricky move since it has already been postponed.
“I think that’s politically very, very difficult to do. The government has already delayed the auction once,” he said.
Indeed, the consumer-oriented Conservatives have already been in the awkward position of being pitted against private companies who claim the auction process was rigged to favour foreign competitors over Canadian incumbents.
So the government may instead look at regulating things such as roaming fees, Ghose said.
Last week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission asked cellphone companies for data on their roaming fees. It will eventually fall to the commission to decide whether to regulate roaming rates if it finds companies are gouging consumers or limiting their choices.