Bloomberg News

No Quick Decision on Canada’s Telecom Foreign-Ownership Rules

November 29, 2011

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The Canadian government needs more time to consider whether to loosen foreign-ownership rules in the country’s telecommunications sector, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said.

The government is also not ready to set the ground rules for an auction of wireless spectrum, Paradis told a conference held by the International Institute of Communications in Ottawa today.

“This is a complex environment to navigate,” Paradis said in the prepared text of his remarks provided by his office. “We are not looking at one discrete policy decision, but rather a balance of interconnected decisions that must be considered in concert.”

In March 2010, Canada pledged to open the industry to more foreign ownership. One year ago, then-Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government would delay new rules until the auction of spectrum in the 700 and 2,500 megahertz bands.

Paradis met in August with executives from telecom and cable companies including BCE Inc., Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. to discuss options on foreign ownership and the spectrum auction.

The government should move quickly to lay the ground rules for the spectrum auction, even if it hasn’t decided on any foreign-ownership rules, said John Bitove, executive chairman of DAVE Wireless Inc., which offers the Mobilicity brand of mobile phone.

“Let’s get on with it,” Bitove said before the speech. “There’s enough new entrants that are operating in Canada under the current structure.”

--Editors: Paul Badertscher, Carlos Torres

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Mayeda in Ottawa at amayeda@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net


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