Canada's telecoms to change tack in anti-Verizon crusade: sources

Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:57pm EDT
 
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By Alastair Sharp and Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's three biggest wireless companies plan to attack Verizon Communications Inc's role in the U.S. government's electronic spying scandal, as they scramble to force Ottawa to rethink rules that encourage Verizon to set up in Canada, according to four sources.

The Canadian government has so far spurned an intense lobbying effort from the trio - Rogers Communications, BCE Inc and Telus Corp - by insisting its policies will cut Canadians' wireless bills.

The planned campaign, which has yet to get a final green light, will focus on how Verizon's entry into Canada could open the door to overreaching surveillance and a loss of privacy for Canadians, said the sources, who declined to be named as the plans are not yet public.

If the companies sign off on the proposals, the ads will start appearing in newspapers, online and on radio next week in the hope that they will swing public opinion behind the three players and persuade the government to change its mind.

Telus, BCE and Rogers declined to comment on any changes to the campaign.

Under current rules, new entrant Verizon could bid in a 2014 auction for two of four prime blocks of the spectrum that wireless companies need to operate mobile services, while the existing big players can only bid for one block apiece.

Verizon can also buy one or more of the smaller telecom firms, an option that is not open for the three Canadian firms.

Sources told Reuters in June that Verizon had offered between $600 million and $800 million for newcomer Wind Mobile and was in talks with another upstart, Mobilicity.   Continued...

 
A sign of Verizon Wireless is seen at its store in Westminster, Colorado April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking