Verizon entry could be "catastrophic", says Quebecor CEO

Thu Aug 8, 2013 3:55pm EDT
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By Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay

(Reuters) - Canadian media and telecom conglomerate Quebecor Inc said the potential entry of Verizon Wireless into the country's wireless market could be "catastrophic" for regional operators looking to expand.

Verizon's entry would radically alter the outcome of the current auction rules, Quebecor Chief Executive Robert Depatie said in a post-earnings conference call.

Canada's wireless industry is bracing for its biggest shakeup in decades as Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile service provider, prepares to bite into the lucrative market that has been dominated by three big domestic players.

Rogers Communications Inc, Telus Corp and BCE Inc's Bell cater to 90 percent of Canada's wireless subscribers.

"... Nothing in the current rules prevents Verizon from acquiring half of the prime spectrum blocks in every region of the country," Depatie said.

Similarly, nothing prevents Verizon from limiting its deployment in urban areas, he said.

Quebecor, which competes with BCE in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec, said in May its Videotron wireless arm would team up with Rogers to build and operate a shared high-speed wireless network in and around the province.

The 700 megahertz spectrum, due to be auctioned in January 2014, is coveted for its ability to travel farther than certain other airwaves, thereby requiring fewer towers for rural coverage.   Continued...