Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Wireless Policies Has Left Industry Skeptical: Summit Organizer

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Wireless Policies Has Left Industry Skeptical: Summit Organizer

Article excerpt

Gov't wireless policy called into question

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TORONTO - Canada's telecom industry appears skeptical that the government can really provide consumers with lower prices and more innovation in wireless communications by supporting new competitors and restraining the power of the bigger carriers.

Ottawa recently moved to cap the wholesale prices that big wireless carriers charge their smaller rivals, and stands by a policy of having at least four rivals in every region of the country, but an organizer of this year's Canadian Telecom Summit says that policy has both support and opposition.

"On one hand, you might have lower prices. On the other hand, you may have reduced incentives to invest in new technology," says Mark Goldberg, who helped create the annual conference as a forum for the billion-dollar industry of smartphones, telephones, Internet and other vital communications.

Goldberg said there's been extraordinary interest in a panel of academics and other economists who will debate whether governments can actually create sustainable competition through their regulatory policies at the conference which begins Monday.

Robert Crandall, a fellow of the Washington-based Brookings Institution who will be one of the panelists on Monday, says there are only a few areas with very high population densities that can sustain more than three wireless carriers in the long term.

Even in the United States, Crandall says, the number of national competitors has dwindled to four and there are strong rumours that two of the remaining rivals will merge, leaving only a three-way race.

"When you have countries like the U.S. and Canada with large rural areas, to get universal coverage for four carriers would be difficult. It would require, I suppose, that the fourth carrier use the third carrier's facilities. There, you get into all the regulatory issues," Crandall said. …

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