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Verizon's possible entry into Canada earns criticism from domestic telecoms

July 29, 2013

Verizon has an established reputation as one of the most successful wireless and telecom companies in the United States. Recently, it announced potential plans to enter the Canadian market, which it would accomplish by buying two relatively new wireless carriers, Wind Mobile and Mobilicity. According to the Canadian Press, this development prompted several of Canada's major telecoms to begin lobbying the country's lawmakers to make policy changes that would effectively block Verizon from making moves into the nation's wireless sector. It is unclear what effects Verizon would have on the market for other telecom products, such as prepaid phone cards.

The news source reported that Bell Canada, Rogers and Telus are pushing most strongly for Verizon to be barred from the Canadian market, demanding changes to existing laws regarding the wireless sector. In an open letter, Bell Canada CEO George Cope fervently decried the American company's purported plans. 

"A company of this scale certainly doesn't need handouts from Canadians or special regulatory advantages over Canadian companies. But that is exactly what they get in the new federal wireless regulations," Cope stated.

These three companies take the most significant umbrage with a new provision that allows foreign companies to own domestic wireless providers even if they lack the previously required 10 percent ownership share of the national market. 

CBC News reported that Verizon actually once owned a substantial portion of Telus under its original name, BC Tel, selling it in 2004. Iain Grant, a member of the SeaBoard group consulting firm, stated that Verizon is looking to have a wireless presence that seamlessly covers the North American market. 

"It makes a lot of sense for it to offer its services to its [American] customers in Canada. Similarly offering services to Canadians who spend a lot of time in the United States," Grant said.

Industry analysts and experts are divided in their opinions regarding what Verizon's presence would do - namely, whether it would facilitate lower rates for customers or lead to pricier plans with more options.

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