Give Canadian wireless companies a fair fight

We don’t want nor require the government’s protection from foreign competitors

Re: Feds support policies that increase competition, Letters (Sep 12)

As director of customer solutions delivery for Telus in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to MP Mark Strahl’s recent letter about the Canadian wireless industry.

We have been very clear about welcoming true competition to our industry in Canada and have been on the public record repeatedly since 2001 calling for our government to foster that competition by lifting foreign ownership restrictions altogether. We also aren’t looking for preferential treatment; we don’t want nor require the government’s protection from foreign competitors.

Our only request has been that the government not tilt the rules of the upcoming auction of wireless spectrum – the critical airwaves we need to serve customers in Hope and across Canada – creating loopholes that give foreign companies advantages over Canadian firms like Telus.

Based here in B.C., Telus was the original newcomer to Canada’s wireless industry, taking a significant risk when we purchased Clearnet for $6.6 billion in 2000 to launch ourselves onto the national wireless scene. We did that without government help, because it was a business risk we believed in. Huge foreign companies coming to Canada should be required to take the same risks we have, and not be handed a taxpayer-funded advantage.

The spectrum allocated to telecoms in the early days of our industry was not a “start-up advantage” as Mr. Strahl claims.  Not only did this spectrum come with the requirement that telecoms deploy networks to 94 per cent of the Canadian population to ensure rural Canadians benefited (a requirement that does not apply to new wireless companies today, who would only have to build to 50 per cent of British Columbians), it also came with annual license fees that we still pay today.

At Telus, we are proud that since 2000 our company has invested $102 billion in Canada to deliver technology and services that are among the best in the world. We have been able to overcome engineering challenges posed by our country’s vast geography and create innumerable economic, social, educational and medical benefits for Canadians.

Here in Hope we are investing $900,000 this year alone to bring local residents faster internet and better wireless. Just a couple of years ago we brought wireless to the Fraser Canyon – something of an engineering marvel.

We are asking our government to give us the chance to have a fair fight with all comers to our industry – don’t make us fight with a hand tied behind our back by your rules.

Jordon West

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