Secret documents call on federal government to open Canada’s telecommunications sector to foreign competition: report

A new collection of government reports suggests Canada’s federal government should open the country’s telecommunications sector to more foreign competition, according to The Logic.

The website claims that it was able to obtain a classified report that was prepared for senior government officials in charge of overseeing the review of the Telecommunications Act and Broadcasting Act.

The report, as well as several other related documents obtained by The Logic, examine the state of Canada’s telecommunications sector, comparing it against telecommunications sectors in other countries.

“Canada’s restrictions are the most severe,” reads one section of the report, according to The Logic.

Another report, prepared for the Navdeep Bain’s ministry of Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED), is said to have looked at a variety of other telecom markets between 1995 and 2017. The report concludes that, in the case of those markets, relaxing foreign investment rules brought about multiple benefits, including more affordable wireless use prices for consumers.

In fact, the report allegedly lists no downsides to opening up Canada’s telecommunications sector to foreign competition.

Yet another one of the reports obtained by The Logic examines how T-Mobile’s entry into the U.S. led to lower rate plan prices for American consumers.

“Verizon and AT&T maintain over 70 per cent of industry revenues but competition from T-Mobile and Sprint have forced the larger carriers to respond with more attractive plans for customers,” reads the report, titled “Foreign Investment in Telecommunications.”

In their current iteration, both the Telecommunications Act and Broadcasting Act limit a foreign company’s ability to participate in the Canadian wireless and broadcasting markets.

Moreover, Canada’s ‘Big Three’ carriers — Rogers, Bell, Telus — have historically expressed fierce resistance to even the idea of allowing foreign competitors into their space. In 2013, when it seemed like Verizon would almost certainly enter the Canadian wireless market, the Big Three launched a joint, multi-million advertisement campaign called Fair For Canada that claimed the company’s entrance into Canada’s wireless market would “have massive consequences for Canadians.”  Then company CEO Lowell McAdam later said reports that Verizon would come to Canada were “way overblown.”

When asked to respond to questions related to the reports, a spokesperson for ISED Minister Navdeep Bains instead said, “We have taken steps to promote competition so that prices will be more affordable. In regions with strong competition, prices are as much as 31 per cent lower than the national average.”

One tool the federal government could use to open up Canada telecommunications market to foreign competition is the recently announced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). If the agreement is ratified by all three member states, it will lead to the creation of a “Committee on Telecommunications”. This committee will be responsible for “enabling responsiveness to technological and regulatory developments in telecommunications.”

Visit The Logic to read the full report.

Source: The Logic