Verizon has been toying with the idea expanding in the Canadian wireless market. So far, Verizon has decided not to purchase Wind or Mobilicity, but that does not mean that they aren’t still considering a big move up north. Not everyone is happy about Verizon moving in to Canada’s wireless space, though. The Conservative government of Canada has launched a website in the hopes of showing Canadian citizens that Verizon should be allowed in as a new entrant.
The website, Consumers First, is an attempt by the new Industry Minister James Moore to clear up the misconceptions about Verizon entering in to the Canadian telecommunications space. Moore attempts to uphold the idea that more wireless competitors in Canada is a good thing. He is trying to convince Canadian citizens that they are doing something good for them by trying to lower their wireless bills. The website points to the fact that since the current Conservative government has embraced “pro-competition, pro-consumer” wireless policies in 2008, the average price of consumer’s wireless bills has decreased by roughly 20%. 2008 was also when the Canadian government set wireless spectrum aside for new entrants, like Verizon. The numbers back this up. On average, Canadian wireless customers do pay slightly less than they used to in 2008. The website also points out that Canadians pay almost as much as U.S. customers for monthly wireless service. Canadian and United States citizens pay some of the highest cell phone bills of any developed country. Canadians also pay very roaming bills when compared to other nations. Verizon is one of the most expensive U.S. wireless carriers, so it’s questionable that adding them to the mix of carriers in Canada would help. The added competition may not be enough.
Verizon may move to purchase some of the 700 MHz spectrum that the Canadian government is auctioning off next January. Wireless incumbents in Canada are limited to only one block of spectrum each, per region. If Verizon can move in as a new entrant, it can purchase two blocks of spectrum per designated region. This may explain why they decided to hold off on purchasing Mobilicity or Wind, for now. The wireless incumbents in Canada don’t think it’s fair that Verizon may be able purchase extra spectrum. The current Canadian telecoms hold 90% of the market and 85% of the country’s spectrum. They want to hold on to what they have, but the Canadian government wants to give Verizon a chance to move in.