THE STATE OF COMPETITION IN CANADA S TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY 2015

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1 RESEARCH PAPERS MAY 2015 THE STATE OF COMPETITION IN CANADA S TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY 2015 By Martin Masse and Paul Beaudry

2 910 Peel Street, Suite 600 Montreal (Quebec) H3C 2H8 Canada Phone: Fax: Website: The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its publications, media appearances and conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms. It does not accept any government funding. The opinions expressed in this study do not necessarily represent those of the Montreal Economic Institute or of the members of its board of directors. The publication of this study in no way implies that the Montreal Economic Institute or the members of its board of directors are in favour of or oppose the passage of any bill. Reproduction is authorized for non-commercial educational purposes provided the source is mentioned Montreal Economic Institute ISBN Legal deposit: 2 nd quarter 2015 Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec Library and Archives Canada Printed in Canada

3 Martin Masse Paul Beaudry The State of Competition in Canada s Telecommunications Industry 2015 Montreal Economic Institute May 2015

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS...5 INTRODUCTION...7 CHAPTER 1 HOW DOES CANADA MEASURE UP?...9 CHAPTER 2 AN UPDATE ON WIRELESS COMPETITION IN CANADA...23 CHAPTER 3 MANDATORY SHARING OF BROADBAND NETWORKS: FOSTERING OR HINDERING INNOVATION?...31 CHAPTER 4 THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES ON COMPETITION IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECTOR...39 CONCLUSION ENDANGERED BENEFITS...45 ABOUT THE AUTHORS... 49

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7 HIGHLIGHTS The 2014 edition of this report attempted to dispel the notion that Canadians pay uncompetitive prices for low quality telecommunications services, and argued that interventions aiming to increase the number of players through subsidies and mandated access were not likely to have the intended effects and might instead jeopardize investments and innovation. Here are some highlights from this year s edition. Chapter 1 How Does Canada Measure Up? Canadians continue to be among the biggest consumers of telecommunications services in the world, an indication that we enjoy competitive, quality services. Only broadband Internet services leave something to be desired compared to other countries. The penetration rates of the latest wireless technologies in Canada are among the highest for industrialized countries. Canadians actually benefit from one of the most advanced and efficient wireless networks in the world. As for the prices Canadians pay for wireless services, they remain generally higher than in Europe (where low prices have been correlated with falling capital expenditures and a lagging deployment of new technologies) but lower than in the United States or Japan. Chapter 2 An Update on Wireless Competition in Canada Despite implementing policies aimed at increasing the number of competitors in the wireless market since 2007, Bell, Telus and Rogers still dominate the Canadian wireless market, and the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia still lack a solidly established fourth wireless player. Since the federal government eased foreign ownership restrictions in 2012, no well-established foreign player has entered the Canadian market, despite the federal government s courting of two American wireless providers in Over the past year, the government has reiterated its support for preferential spectrum auctions, and has passed legislation aimed at capping the roaming fees that large wireless carriers can charge small ones. Since last year s edition of this report, Germany and Ireland have been added to the list of countries with only three national players, and ongoing transactions in Italy, the UK and Denmark may lead to more mergers in the coming months. WIND Mobile is the only pure-play new entrant whose fortunes have brightened since last year, acquiring additional spectrum in the March 2015 auction, although it now has to invest significant sums to deploy that spectrum, and it is still uncertain whether it can secure the funding to do so. Investments in wireless infrastructure in Europe have declined by 3% between 2007 and 2013, whereas they grew by 74% in the United States and by 21% in Canada. The government and the CRTC should stop emulating the failed policies of Europe and revive Canada s historically less interventionist wireless regulation, which has served consumers well. Chapter 3 Mandatory Sharing of Broadband Networks: Fostering or Hindering Innovation? The CRTC is expected to issue a decision shortly on whether there is a need for mandatory wholesale access with respect to fibre-to-the-premises facilities (FTTP), which are replacing copper technology with optical fibre that runs directly to the homes and businesses of customers. Proponents of mandatory network sharing contend that it is necessary because certain elements of telecommunications networks are difficult to replicate, or cannot be replicated economically. Montreal Economic Institute 5

8 Small, independent Internet service providers (ISPs), whose business model relies solely on the use of the large providers infrastructure at below-market rates, have fared well under the current regulatory environment. However, the presence of these additional competitors is artificially supported by the CRTC, not by actors in the marketplace. In attempting to strike a balance between the interests of the large companies and those of small ISPs, the CRTC has interfered with all market participants incentives to innovate and invest in advanced networks and equipment. The proportion of Canadians subscribing to mobile broadband in 2013 was 50.2%, as opposed to 32.8% for fixed broadband, due to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets. This provides an additional and much more potent source of competition in the broadband sector. cable providers, and then through the substitution of wireless telephone services for traditional wireline services. In 2013, cable providers accounted for 33% of all revenues from local residential telephony services. Households are increasingly deciding to abandon their residential telephones and keep just their wireless subscriptions: In 2013, 21% of Canadian households had decided to cut the cord including 60% of young households. The potential competitors of today which have no market share and which consequently are not considered relevant according to the static approach are the ones that might revolutionize the industry of tomorrow. The stark contrast between the U.S. and European approaches regarding mandatory access should give pause to proponents of generous mandated access policies. Chapter 4 The Impact of Technological Changes on Competition in the Telecommunications Sector There are two visions of competition: the static vision of perfect competition, which continues to influence decision makers and the general public even though it has fallen out of favour in the field of economics; and the dynamic vision that takes into account the rapid evolution of markets, and in particular the potential impact of new, disruptive technologies. Those who favour the static vision generally advocate government intervention to increase competition, either by regulating prices or by promoting and subsidizing the entry of additional players, but the static model is of limited relevance to the analysis of an industry like telecommunications, which has undergone substantial and rapid changes thanks to technology. In contrast, a good illustration of the relevance of the dynamic model is that over the past quarter of a century, new technologies have gradually eroded the former telephone monopolies dominant market positions: first, through the provision of telephony services by 6 Montreal Economic Institute

9 INTRODUCTION Last year, the first edition of The State of Competition in Canada s Telecommunications Industry assessed how Canada measured up with other jurisdictions regarding the quality and pricing of its telecommunications services. The report also evaluated how competition was faring in key areas of the Canadian telecommunications market, and provided a critical assessment of Canada s legislative and regulatory framework for this industry. One of the primary motivations for the publication of this report was that many Canadians were, in our opinion, under the mistaken impression that Canada s telecommunications industry compared poorly with that of other jurisdictions. The report attempted to dispel the notion that Canadians pay uncompetitive prices for low quality services. It also argued that the federal government s and the CRTC s interventions in the wireless and wireline sectors aiming to increase the number of players through subsidies and mandated access were not likely to have the intended effects and might jeopardize investments and innovation. Instead of these interventions, the report argued that the government should liberalize its policy on spectrum transfer and open up the market completely to foreign ownership. This year s edition continues to explore these themes. Chapter 1 provides updated statistics regarding the performance of the Canadian telecommunications industry compared with other jurisdictions. Chapter 2 describes the current state of Canada s wireless market, with a look at spectrum auctions and CRTC decisions on tower sharing and roaming fees. Chapter 3 discusses the mandatory sharing of broadband networks and the impact of such a policy on investment decisions. Finally, Chapter 4 explores the role of innovation in assessing the level of competition that exists in a dynamic market. Montreal Economic Institute 7

10 8 Montreal Economic Institute

11 CHAPTER 1 How Does Canada Measure Up? The criticism most often heard regarding the telecommunications industry in Canada, and especially wireless services, is that Canadians pay a lot more than people in other countries for lower quality services. It is this criticism that is used to justify the federal government s numerous interventions these past few years aimed at promoting more competition in the wireless sector. Is this actually true? It is difficult to form a perfectly clear and objective picture of the situation, not only because circumstances (like geography and types of regulation) vary from one country to the next, but also because of the use of different research methodologies. The available data, however, do not support such a conclusion. The charts that follow come from the main organizations that publish international rankings related to various aspects of the telecommunications industry. As in last year s edition of this report, the picture that emerges from these data is first of all that Canadians are among the biggest consumers of telecommunications services in the world. This does not constitute a proof, but it is certainly an indication that Canadians enjoy competitive, quality services. Another indication is that the penetration rates of the latest wireless technologies are also among the highest for industrialized countries. In terms of the quality of services, the data indicate that Canadians actually benefit from one of the most advanced and efficient wireless networks in the world. Only broadband Internet services leave something to be desired compared to other countries. As for the prices Canadians pay for wireless services, they are generally higher than in Europe, but lower than in the United States or Japan. These low prices are not necessarily a positive sign for the European telecommunications industry, however. In recent years, they have been correlated with falling capital expenditures and a lagging deployment of new technologies. Montreal Economic Institute 9

12 Figure 1-1 PC Online Usage Canada United States Italy United Kingdom Russia Brazil France Germany China Japan Source: comscore, Canada Digital Future in Focus 2015, March 27, Average Monthly Hours of PC Online Usage per Visitor In the sample selected by comscore, Canada is ranked 1 st (as opposed to 3 rd last year) in terms of the number of hours visitors spend online on average every month. This is a reminder that Canadians are among the biggest data users in the world. 10 Montreal Economic Institute

13 Figure 1-2 Tablet Usage 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 South Korea Japan Canada Mexico Brazil Chile Argentina Sweden United States Poland New Zealand United Kingdom Australia Russia Italy Spain India China France Germany Indonesia Average Traffic per User (Mb/month) Source: Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights , In regard to tablet usage, Canadians use on average 3,400 Mb per month. Canada is ranked 3 rd among the countries where data was available. Montreal Economic Institute 11

14 Figure 1-3 Smartphone Usage 3,500 3,000 2,500 2,000 1,500 1, Japan South Korea Sweden United States Canada United Kingdom Italy New Zealand Australia Poland Mexico France Spain Germany Brazil Indonesia Russia Chile Argentina India China Source: Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights , Average Mobile Traffic per User (Mb/month) In terms of smartphone usage, Canadians use on average a little more than 1,200 Mb per month. Such a level of consumption means Canada ranks 5 th among Cisco s sampled countries. 12 Montreal Economic Institute

15 Figure 1-4 Smartphone Market Penetration 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Australia South Korea Sweden Canada United States Japan France New Zealand Spain United Kingdom Germany Italy Poland China Argentina Brazil Chile Mexico Russia Indonesia India Smartphone Market Penetration by Percent of Mobile Subscribers Source: Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights , In terms of smartphone market penetration, Canada ranks 4 th, with a total of 76% of its mobile subscribers using smartphones. Montreal Economic Institute 13

16 Figure 1-5 LTE Connections as a Ratio of Total Connections 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% South Korea Japan United States Australia Canada Sweden United Kingdom France New Zealand Spain Germany China Italy Brazil Russia Chile Mexico Poland India Indonesia Argentina Share of LTE Connections Source: Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights , Canada ranks 5 th among the 21 selected countries in terms of the proportion of mobile users connected to the fastest network, with 20% of total connections being LTE (Long Term Evolution, or 4G) connections. 14 Montreal Economic Institute

17 Figure 1-6 Mobile Download Speed Finland Luxembourg France Slovenia Hungary New Zealand Denmark Greece Netherlands Norway Canada Switzerland Austria Australia South Korea Belgium Sweden Portugal Germany Czech Republic Italy United Kingdom Poland Spain Slovakia Japan Ireland Chile Estonia United States Israel Turkey Mexico Mobile Download Speed (Mbps) Source: Ookla Net Index, Mobile Download Index, April 22, Results were obtained by analyzing test data between March 24 and April 22, In terms of mobile download speed, Canada ranks 12 th among OECD member states, ahead of countries such as Switzerland, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. Montreal Economic Institute 15

18 Figure 1-7 Mobile Upload Speed Luxembourg New Zealand South Korea 0 Denmark Netherlands Australia Finland Norway Belgium Canada Hungary France United Kingdom Czech Republic Sweden Poland Switzerland Slovenia United States Portugal Greece Austria Slovakia Italy Spain Japan Estonia Ireland Germany Mexico Israel Chile Turkey Mobile Upload Speed (Mbps) Source: Ookla Net Index, Mobile Upload Index, April 22, Results were obtained by analyzing test data between March 24 and April 22, In terms of mobile upload speed, Canada ranks 10 th among OECD member states, ahead of countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United States and Japan. 16 Montreal Economic Institute

19 Figure 1-8 Broadband Download Speed Japan South Korea Sweden Norway Netherlands Denmark Switzerland Iceland France Belgium Luxembourg Hungary United States Finland Portugal Germany United Kingdom Canada Spain Israel Czech Republic Slovakia Austria Estonia Ireland New Zealand Poland Slovenia Chile Turkey Australia Mexico Greece Italy Broadband Download Speed (Mbps) Source: Ookla Net Index, Household Download Index, April 22, Results were obtained by analyzing test data between March 24 and April 22, In terms of broadband download speed (that is, download speed for Internet users with a wireline or cable connection), the Ookla Net Index ranks Canada 18 th among OECD countries. Montreal Economic Institute 17

20 Figure 1-9 Broadband Upload Speed Japan South Korea Norway Iceland Denmark Sweden Netherlands Luxembourg Czech Republic France Estonia Finland Slovakia New Zealand United States Hungary Switzerland Poland Ireland Austria Spain Slovenia United Kingdom Canada Portugal Mexico Belgium Israel Turkey Germany Chile Italy Australia Greece Broadband Upload Speed (Mbps) Source: Ookla Net Index, Household Upload Index, April 22, Results were obtained by analyzing test data between March 24 and April 22, In terms of broadband upload speed, Canada ranks 24 th among OECD countries. 18 Montreal Economic Institute

21 Figure 1-10 Cost of Bandwidth $10 $9 $8 $7 $6 $5 $4 $3 $2 $1 Israel Hungary Czech Republic $0 Poland Slovakia Denmark Netherlands Belgium Estonia United Kingdom Germany Austria Finland Canada Switzerland Sweden Norway United States Greece Luxembourg Turkey Portugal Chile Italy New Zealand Spain Slovenia Mexico France Australia Ireland Median Monthly Cost (US$ per Mbps) Source: Ookla Net Index, Household Value Index, April 23, Results were obtained by analyzing test data between October 23, 2014 and April 23, Regarding the cost of bandwidth for broadband Internet connections, Canada is below the OECD average. Montreal Economic Institute 19

22 Figure 1-11 International Mobile Wireless Prices France Italy Germany Australia United Kingdom Canada United States Japan Level 1 (very low volume use) Level 3 (average use) Level 2 (low-volume use) Level 4 (high-volume use) Source: Wall Communications, Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions: 2014 Update, Prepared for the CRTC and Industry Canada, March 31, 2014, Table A3.2. The indicated values are expressed in Canadian dollars, adjusted for purchasing power parity. Wall Communications has assembled different baskets of mobile wireless services in order to compare Canadian monthly rates with those of seven other countries. These baskets were built on a usage basis, ranging from very low to high-volume usage. In terms of prices, Canada ranks 8 th for very low volume use, and 6 th for each of the remaining levels. 20 Montreal Economic Institute

23 Figure 1-12 International Prices for Bundled Services France United Kingdom Italy Germany Canada Australia Japan United States Bundle 1: Wireline, broadband Internet and mobile wireless services. Bundle 2: Wireline, broadband Internet and digital TV services. Bundle 3: Wireline, broadband Internet, mobile wireless and digital TV services. Source: Wall Communication, Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions: 2014 Update, Prepared for the CRTC and Industry Canada, March 31, 2014, Table A3.5. The indicated values are expressed in Canadian dollars, adjusted for purchasing power parity. Wall Communications has assembled different bundles of services in order to compare Canadian monthly rates with those of other countries. Canada ranks 5 th out of 8 countries for all the bundles. Montreal Economic Institute 21

24 Figure 1-13 Progression of Capital Expenditure in the Wireless Sector, % 70% +74% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% +21% 10% 0% -10% -3% European Union Canada United States Sources: Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, quoted in Erik Bohlin, Kevin W. Caves and Jeffrey A. Eisenach, Mobile Wireless Performance in the EU & the US, GSMA/Navigant Economics, May 2013, p. 17; CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report 2010, July 2010,Table 5.1.9: Capital expenditures, by type of TSP, p. 119; CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report 2014, October 2014, Table 5.0.4: Telecommunications investments made in plant and equipment, by type of provider of telecommunications service, p Regarding capex progression in the wireless sector, the European Union has been outpaced by the United States and Canada these past few years. The data show that between 2007 and 2013, wireless capex grew by 74% in the U.S. and by 21% in Canada while European Union capital expenditure decreased by 3%. 22 Montreal Economic Institute

25 CHAPTER 2 An Update on Wireless Competition in Canada In last year s report, 1 we provided an overview of the various measures undertaken by the federal government in order to foster additional competition in the wireless sector. The government has long advocated the emergence of a fourth national wireless player in Canada, claiming that the wireless sector is insufficiently competitive and that, as a result, Canadian consumers are suffering due to higher prices and less choice. However, despite implementing policies aimed at increasing the number of competitors in the wireless market since 2007, the government has little to show for its efforts. The so-called Big Three (Bell, Telus and Rogers) still dominate the Canadian wireless market, as shown in Table 2-1. Furthermore, the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, which together account for more than 60% of Canada s population, still lack a solidly established fourth wireless player. Despite implementing policies aimed at increasing the number of competitors in the wireless market since 2007, the government has little to show for its efforts. So what happened to the regional providers and new entrants that acquired subsidized AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum in 2008? EastLink in the Maritime Provinces, and Videotron in Quebec (owned by Quebecor), have successfully deployed their networks and built a local client base for their wireless services. Both are cable companies that already offered wireline telephone, Internet and television services. Their strong regional presence and their ability to offer a wide array of services are major reasons for their success. However, Videotron has yet to make a decision on whether or not to deploy the 700 MHz spectrum licences in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia 1. See Martin Masse and Paul Beaudry, Chapter 2: The Elusive Search for a Fourth Wireless Player, in The State of Competition in Canada s Telecommunications Industry 2014, Research Paper, Montreal Economic Institute, May that it acquired for a bargain price in the 2014 auction. Given that it currently has no presence outside of Quebec, most analysts doubt that it has the ability to exploit a wireless network in several provinces unless it teams up with other providers from Canada or elsewhere. 2 The company itself has admitted that it might simply sit on the spectrum licences it has secured. 3 Public Mobile, one of the three new pure-play entrants offering only wireless services that was launched after the 2008 auction, was acquired by TELUS for nearly five times the purchase price of its spectrum licences, essentially arbitraging its government-subsidized spectrum acquisition to secure a windfall. Another pure-play wireless operator, Mobilicity, has been under creditor protection since the government rejected its acquisition by TELUS, and did not bid in the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction due to a lack of financing. Its U.S. parent and one of its financial backers are now suing Industry Canada for preventing the sale of the company. 4 Finally, WIND Mobile is the only new pure-play entrant whose fortunes have brightened since last year. At the time, WIND s European financial backer, VimpelCom, had written off its investment in the company, whose future was gloomy. In September 2014, however, the tides changed when Vimpel- Com s majority stake in the company was acquired by WIND s founder, Tony Lacavera, and West Face Capital, a Canadian private equity firm. 5 This change of control allowed the company to secure the critical financing it needed to acquire additional spectrum in the March 2015 AWS-3 spectrum auction. However, as explained below, it is premature to conclude at this stage that WIND will become a sustainable fourth player in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. 2. It should be added that Videotron acquired AWS-3 spectrum in the most recent spectrum auction. However, it only did so in Quebec and in Eastern Ontario. 3. Sophie Cousineau, Quebecor waiting on Ottawa before expanding out of Quebec, The Globe and Mail, March 13, Mobilicity s backer sues Industry Canada over losses, CBC News, September 5, Pete Evans, Tony Lacavera and West Face buy Wind Mobile from VimpelCom, CBC News, September 16, Montreal Economic Institute 23

26 Table 2-1 Wireless service subscriber market share, by province and territory, 2013 (%) Province/territory Bell Group Telus Rogers New entrants Other British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec New Brunswick Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island Newfoundland and Labrador The North Source: CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report 2014, October 2014, Table 5.5.6: Wireless service subscriber market share, by province and territory (2013), p Note: The Bell Group category includes Bell Canada; Bell Mobility; Latitude Wireless; NorthernTel, Limited Partnership; Northwestel Mobility; SkyTerra; Télébec, Limited Partnership; and Virgin Mobile. In 2013, Public Mobile s figures were included with those of Telus. The New entrants category refers to the new wireless entities that acquired spectrum in Industry Canada s 2008 AWS spectrum auction and were still operating as competitors to Bell, Telus and/or Rogers in These entities included: Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc.; Globalive Wireless Management Corp., operating as WIND Mobile; Videotron G.P.; and more recently, Bragg Communications Inc., operating as Eastlink. The Other category includes TSPs such as MTSAllstream, SaskTel, and other small TSPs. Since the federal government lifted the foreign ownership restrictions in 2012 on carriers holding less than a 10% share of the Canadian telecommunications market (currently, any telecommunications carrier except for Bell, Telus and Rogers), no well-established foreign player has entered the Canadian market, despite the federal government s courting of two American wireless providers in Despite these policy setbacks, the federal government has not shown any signs of backing down from its activist approach to wireless competition. Indeed, as we shall see, over the last year, the government has reiterated its support for preferential spectrum auctions, and has passed legislation aimed at capping the roaming fees that large wireless carriers can charge small ones. This is all the more surprising given that Canada s policy in this matter goes against a worldwide trend toward the consolidation of wireless players. In recent years, the 6. In 2013, Industry Canada officials met with two U.S. wireless providers, Verizon and AT&T, to inform them of Canada s favourable regulatory environment for new entrants and opportunities in Canada ahead of the 700 MHz spectrum auction. See Simon Doyle, Industry Canada lobbied AT&T, too, The Wire Report, March 17, number of national wireless players has gone from five or four to three in Australia, Austria and Japan. Since last year s edition of this report, Germany and Ireland have been added to the list of countries with only three national players. 7 Ongoing transactions in Italy, the UK and Denmark may lead to more mergers in the coming months. 8 If these transactions go through, the vast majority of developed countries will have only three national wireless providers (see Table 2-2). No well-established foreign player has entered the Canadian market, despite the federal government s courting of two American wireless providers in European Commission, Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland, subject to conditions, Press release, July 2, 2014; European Commission, Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Telefónica Ireland by Hutchison 3G, subject to conditions, Press release, May 28, Daniele Lepido and Manuel Baigorri, Hutchison Talks Over Italy Mobile Merger Said to Accelerate, Bloomberg Business, February 17, 2015; Amy Thomson and Rodrigo Orihuela, Hutchison to Buy U.K. Mobile Network O2 for $15.3 Billion, Bloomberg Business, March 24, 2015; Aoife White and Stephanie Bodoni, TeliaSonera, Telenor Mobile Venture Gets In-Depth Probe, Bloomberg Business, April 8, Montreal Economic Institute

27 Table 2-2 Number of national wireless providers in developed countries Australia 3 Japan 3 Austria 3 Netherlands 3 Belgium 3 New Zealand 3 Canada 3* Norway 3 Denmark 4 Portugal 3 Finland 3 Spain 4 France 4 Sweden 4 Germany 3 Switzerland 3 Greece 3 United Kingdom 4 Ireland 3 United States 4* Italy 4 Source: Glen Campbell, Global Wireless Matrix 4Q : The Year Ahead, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, January 8, 2014, p. 2. Modified by the authors to take into account the latest developments. *Both Canada and the U.S. also have a number of regional networks. Informa Telecoms & Media, an international business intelligence and strategy firm headquartered in London, noted in January 2014: A consensus is emerging in the mobile communications industry that three is the optimum number of mobile operators for any given market. 9 Meanwhile, Ottawa is still focusing all of its policy interventions on subsidizing the establishment of a strong fourth wireless player in every one of the country s regional markets. Preferential Spectrum Auctions Remain the Order of the Day Since 2008, all major spectrum auctions in Canada have favoured new entrants and regional providers at the expense of large national players. This trend started with the 2008 AWS spectrum auction, where the federal government set aside 40 out of 105 MHz for new or small regional players. This led to the emergence of three new pure-play entrants (WIND, Mobilicity and Public Mobile), and to some regional players (Videotron in Quebec, Eastlink in Atlantic Canada, and Shaw Communications in Western Canada, which never deployed its network) acquiring subsidized spectrum licences in their home markets. 9. Informa Telecoms & Media, Informa Telecoms & Media s top predictions for 2014, Press release, January 21, The trend continued in February 2014, when the government auctioned off 700 MHz frequencies formerly used by broadcasters to provide over-the-air television, and repurposed for mobile broadband. Out of four prime blocks of spectrum that were auctioned, large carriers could only acquire one. The clear beneficiary of this spectrum cap was Videotron, which acquired spectrum licences not only in its home market of Quebec, but also in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. As noted above, however, Videotron has not yet announced plans to develop a network outside of Quebec, and few analysts expect it to do so. 10 Canada s policy in this matter goes against a worldwide trend toward the consolidation of wireless players. After considerably subsidizing regional operators and new entrants in the AWS and 700 MHz auctions, it could have been expected that the federal government would 10. For an analysis of what Videotron could do with its spectrum, see LuAnn LaSalle, Regional partners seen as best bet for Videotron s wireless spectrum buy, Canadian Business, February 20, 2014; Christine Dobby, How Quebecor s national wireless expansion could play out, The National Post, February 24, 2014; Bertrand Marotte, National Strategy no sure thing for Quebecor, The Globe and Mail, February 20, Montreal Economic Institute 25

THE STATE OF COMPETITION IN CANADA S TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY 2014

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