Canadian consumers' hopes for more wireless competition and lower prices have dimmed

Verizon’s dropped call leaves Tories on hunt for new phone fix

U.S. firm says it won't be Canada's fourth major wireless carrier

U.S. wireless giant Verizon’s declaration it’s not interested in entering the Canadian market appears to have dashed consumer hopes for cheaper cellphone rates and left Ottawa seeking a new white knight to inject more competition.

“Verizon is not going to Canada,” CEO Lowell McAdam told Bloomberg Monday, adding speculation that it would was “way overblown.”

Some analysts had predicted Verizon would take a long, slow approach to any move to buy one or more of the junior Canadian wireless companies that have struggled against the country’s big three dominant telecom firms.

If the biggest U.S. telco has abandoned a northern venture – and isn’t merely playing a waiting game to gain maximum advantage – it sends the federal government back to the drawing board on how to engineer the the improved competition it has said is required.

“It leaves us back where we started in the swamp with no solution,” SFU business and marketing professor Lindsay Meredith said.

The status quo is exactly what Telus, Bell Canada and Rogers want, he said, but a fierce public relations battle waged this summer by the big three and Ottawa means the issue is unlikely to go away.

Nor, Meredith predicted, is public demand for reform and dissatisfaction with high mobile rates.

Up in the air is what happens in an auction of wireless spectrum set for January, which had been dangled by Ottawa as a lure for a new foreign entrant, who presumably would buy a small firm like Wind Mobile or Mobilicity.

“The only scenario that could possibly unbalance things is for somebody with a lot of money to come in and start backing those little guys,” Meredith said.

“I’d call Vodafone. I’d keep the heat on.”

Vodafone is the British wireless firm that is selling its U.S. interests to Verizon for $130 billion. Verizon’s McAdam said the deal wasn’t a factor in its decision against coming to Canada.

Industry Minister James Moore has said the federal government’s policy will be good for consumers, regardless of whether Verizon comes north.

Meredith said there was no guarantee Verizon – which wouldn’t have been able to bundle wireless with home phone or TV services – would have offered the cut-rate prices telco-hating Canadians had dreamed about.

He noted U.S. retailer Target arrived this year, but not with lower U.S. pricing.

But he said Canadians “finally” got a real debate on the issue, crediting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to push for change.

But he said the “relatively quiet” Harper government didn’t push the issue of unfair pricing hard enough and allowed the telecom firms to recover from what had seemed a winning cause for the Tories.

Most resonant for the telcos, he said, were their claims that Verizon price gouges in the U.S. and that it would unfairly tap into Canadian-built infrastructure, while Canadian firms don’t have the same access to U.S. networks.

“The telcos were making ground on the issue without even talking about pricing,” Meredith said. “The other side did bugger all from a strategic marketing standpoint.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Traffic delays: Saturday work added to Highway 1 construction schedule

Work continues on dangerous stretch between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway

VIDEO: James Bay wolf released into wild of western Vancouver Island

Conservation officers confirm wolf is from Discovery Island

Canadian Tire Fix-A-Heart campaign raises more than $75,000 for Royal Jubilee Hospital

Donations will help purchase infusion pumps for cardiac care units

Supreme Court bans Victoria man from practising law

Jeremy Maddock received a law degree in 2016 but never completed articling

Victoria shops avoid plastic bags, despite bylaw being voided

The city is working on getting the bylaw re-established

VIDEO: Driver guilty in Saanich crash that left 11-year-old with catastrophic brain injuries

North Saanich woman convicted on one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read