Critics face ‘scripted answers’ and conspiracy allegations from Rogers, Shaw and Québecor at House of Commons hearings

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the tension was at its peak House of Commons Wednesday, as Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) Held hearings to examine the proposed Rogers-Shaw merger. Academics and Representatives of Independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) techsavvy And Global denounced the C$26 billion merger deal, while the parties to the merger attacked rivals and mechanically parroted their views of the public interest and competition.

Witnesses opposing the merger include Ben Klass, senior research associate at the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project, Anthony Lacavera, chairman of Globalive, and Andy Kaplan-Mith, vice president, regulatory and career affairs at TechSavvy.

From the perspective of the class, the Rogers outage should have served as a wake-up call that ‘bigger is not always better,’ especially when it comes to essential services we depend on daily. He questioned whether the priority in Canada is to promote competition or to cater to big businesses that want to control important markets.

“How do we get back to the basics of competition and good prices in this market? And one answer is to remove the dominance of the core providers,” he said. “These are companies that have been in the market for 30 years – Rogers, Telus, Bell – and they are in control of it. They’ve maintained 90 percent share even in 10 years of the fourth carrier policy. So I think it’s very important That you have a competitor that is not dependent on one of the major providers in this way.”

Lacavera also furthered his ambitions for the competitive wireless market, which he has seen as part of a bid to reacquire Freedom Mobile (formerly Globally-owned WIND Mobile, sold to Shaw in 2015) following the Rogers-Shaw announcement. Tried to sign in again with . He claimed that he offered Videotron more than the C$900 million accepted by Rogers. “It doesn’t make sense in any universe for a company like Rogers to be able to select its competitor, and then pursue them with a series of commercial agreements that may now actually violate the Telecommunications Act.” “

But Rogers chief executive Tony Staffieri argued that the “lengthy judicial process” was sufficient to prove that the merger would not reduce competition, but would actually increase competition. “This was not a close case, this committee can feel satisfied that no stone was left unturned.”

‘Investment’ was equally a buzzword for the merging parties, and seemed to be their way of alleviating any competition concerns brought up by community members. “We invest in the network. And in terms of affordability, we wake up every day looking to add more value to our customers,” Staffieri said. He added that Rogers would inject C$6.5 over the next five years to improve connectivity: C$1 billion to connect rural and indigenous communities, C$2.5 billion to expand its 5G network and C$3 billion in network services.

Staffieri also claimed that 3,000 jobs would be created at Rogers, which, when questioned by a committee member, heard from company insiders that 4,000–5,000 people would be cut. Staffieri replied,There will be areas that have overlap. And we’ll try to redeploy resources to areas that are growing.”

In addition, Paul McAleese, president of Shaw Communications, stated that Rogers would never own Freedom Mobile and that there would remain four strong wireless competitors in each of British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. “The dynamic, newly empowered Freedom-Videotron will more than double its subscriber base to more than three million customers and will have all the tools it needs to compete against national carriers, including the critical 5G spectrum that Shaw’s is not with me. ,

McAleese accused Telus of running a corporate campaign called Project Fox to “kill, shape and slow down” the proposed transaction with Globalive and to replace Vidéotron with Globalive in the purchase of Freedom Mobile. He added that Telus doesn’t really want competition in western Canada, where it is the dominant provider.

“Project Fox Tales is a blatant example of, shall we say, toxic and Machiavellian tactics, which have included increased litigation, covert misinformation campaigns, and attempts to separate Western Canada from Eastern Canada, among other things, to incite protests. involves intense lobbying for McLees said.

McAleese also claimed that Lacavera, whom he referred to as ‘Pinocchio’, had a questionable record in running a wireless company and that Shaw inherited several challenges when he bought WIND Mobile.

Lacavera probably saw the allegations coming and in 2015 addressed the sale of WIND Mobile to Shaw at the start of the hearing, noting, “We didn’t want to sell, we were dragged into the sale to Shaw.” was performing brilliantly. Our business model was validated, and Canadians were voting with their feet; we had nearly a million customers. We voted against selling. But they didn’t say that regardless Why and how did sales take off?

Regarding the allegations of conspiracy with Telus, Lacavera said; “I’m 50 years old, and I haven’t worked for anyone yet. I am not going to start work for anyone. So there is never a scenario where Globaliv is in bed with Telus.”

Instead they claimed that their association with Telus ended over a shared network agreement. “We contribute the spectrum that we have to the mix, and contribute to the radio network that we have on a shared basis with Telus.

Kaplan-Myth detailed the difficulties of an independent ISP trying to survive in a telecom oligopoly. “TekSavvy is losing customers and investment plans, including plans to buy spectrum, have had to be put on hold,” he said. “The wholesale regime is failing, and consumers are paying the price. Internet prices in Canada continued to rise, including 13 percent annual increases for some of the most popular speeds.

competitive strength of videotron was also placed under scrutiny, as opposing witnesses alleged that the Quebec-based carrier was receiving less preferential rates and terms from Rogers in order to portray it as a credible competitor. Without these favorable rates (potentially illegal under the Telecommunications Act, witnesses noted), Videotron would be unable to support the competition and therefore fails as a measure for the Roger–Shaw deal to proceed.

,videotron Those preferred rates are going to be needed to compete outside its core cable footprint. They have the network advantage in Quebec, they don’t have any brand equity or any network advantage outside of Quebec,” Kaplan-Mith said.

TekSavvy believes that this question of illegal preferential rates calls for the intervention of the CRTC before Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne decides.

Minister Champagne said in an interview with the toronto star He is in no rush to give a green signal to the merger, and as a regulator, he has no time frame. He said he wanted assurance of Videotron will offer truly low cost services over a period of 10 years.

Champagne said, “I’m a lawyer, so we’ll make sure these undertakings are binding, and there will be consequences for failures to fulfill them”.

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