Wind, Public Mobile, Mobilicity split from lobby group
Globalive and WIND Mobile chairman Anthony Lacavera claps during a press conference in Toronto on December 11, 2009. (Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:34AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:02PM EDT
Three of Canada's new wireless carriers say they will better serve their customers outside the industry's main lobby group, which they accuse of favouring Rogers, Bell and Telus.
Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity accused the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association of consistently taking positions that favour Canada's big three carriers.
"There's no negative impact on consumers here whatsoever," said Bob Boron, senior vice-president and chief legal and regulatory officer at Public Mobile.
"We feel like we are going to do a better job in lobbying and making positions known before decision makers and policy makers as a result of us exiting the association."
Boron said Public Mobile paid between $50,000 and $100,000 in annual dues to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
Public Mobile, Wind Mobile and Mobilicity don't ask their customers to sign contracts for mobile phones and have brought more competition to the market since they launched about three years ago.
The three small companies are expected to have 8.1 per cent of the market, or 2.35 million Canadian wireless subscribers by the end of this year, the Convergence Consulting Group has estimated.
That's up from 1.69 million customers or about 6.1 per cent at the end of 2012.
Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) have more than 24 million wireless subscribers combined.
The association called the withdrawal unfortunate and rejected the allegations that it only works on behalf of its large members.
"CWTA has always and will continue to work on behalf of all of its members," spokesman Marc Choma said from Ottawa.
"While any industry association that represents a large and diverse membership in an intensely competitive sector will have some disagreements amongst it members on certain issues, CWTA is a catalyst for numerous initiatives that bring many benefits to Canadian," Choma said.
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications initiatives include a national cellphone recycling program, the upcoming stolen phone database, Wireless AMBER alerts and improvements to the 911 emergency call system.
Wind Mobile's Simon Lockie said those are programs the three smaller carriers will have to pursue on their own or possibly as non-members of the industry group.
Lockie said the CWTA's position backing three-year contracts favours Rogers, Bell and Telus, which subsidize expensive smartphones over the life of the contract.
"It's the No. 1 issue that Canadians hate," said Lockie, Wind's chief regulatory officer said of three-year contracts.
"I think that consumers should take heart that we are not allowing that to continue unchallenged."
Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity emerged after the Canadian government moved to increase competition in 2008 when it reserved some wireless spectrum for new entrants.
Ottawa is preparing to hold another auction of radio spectrum that will allow carriers to build faster networks to handle consumers increased use of data and cover more area.