Lights on an internet switch are lit up as with users in an office in Ottawa, on February 10, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Lights on an internet switch are lit up as with users in an office in Ottawa, on February 10, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Analysts say new CRTC limits on Big 3 help regional carriers with growth plans

One of Canada’s most outspoken consumer advocacy groups, OpenMedia, criticized the CRTC on Thursday

Canada’s regional wireless and internet carriers will benefit the most from this week’s landmark regulatory ruling by the CRTC, telecommunications analysts and consumer advocates say.

Financial analysts at RBC Capital Markets and Canaccord Genuity Capital Markets say Quebecor’s Videotron and Cogeco Communications will likely have more room to grow, given the CRTC’s new restrictions on BCE’s Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp.

But the analysts also say the three big national wireless carriers will likely be able to manage the new CRTC rules.

“We view this decision as ‘constructive-enough’ and manageable for national operators while at the same time ‘extending a helping hand’ to existing regional wireless operators,” RBC analyst Drew McReynolds wrote in an report for clients.

However, one of Canada’s most outspoken consumer advocacy groups, OpenMedia, criticized the CRTC on Thursday for putting too much emphasis on the regional carriers, doing too little to limit the market power of the Big Three and doing very little to help new entrants to the wireless markets.

OpenMedia executive director Laura Tribe said the CRTC had missed a chance to stimulate competition from smaller players.

“It really doubles down on the idea that a regional provider will be sufficient to correct the extreme market share that Bell, Telus and Rogers have,” Tribe said in an interview.

Tribe has told numerous government and regulatory hearings that Canada’s three biggest telecommunications companies — which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country’s subscriber base — are too big and consumers have too few choices

The financial analysts took a more favourable view of the CRTC decision, noting that Videotron will have more options to strengthen its base in Quebec or buy assets in other provinces and Cogeco may be able to advance its strategic goal of adding wireless to its internet and cable TV networks.

“The CRTC’s decision essentially means that ‘eligible’ regional wireless carriers would be able to use incumbent networks to offer services until they build out their networks,” wrote Aravinda Galappatthige in a report from Canaccord Genuity.

Galappatthige said the decision is very favourable to regional wireless carriers.

“It does open the door for QBR (Quebecor) to extend beyond Quebec with wireless services whether they choose to do so in a limited fashion (i.e. parts of Ontario) or pick up the mantle as the fourth quasi-national player,” Galappatthige wrote.

Canada’s current “fourth quasi-national player” is the former Wind Mobile, which has about two million subscribers in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. About half of them were added after the formerly independent company was bought in 2016 by Shaw Communications Inc. and renamed Freedom Mobile.

Most observers, including the CRTC, say the future for Shaw and Freedom is more difficult to predict because of a proposed takeover by Rogers, which has the largest base of subscribers and a network that spans most of the country. The Rogers-Shaw deal is subject to three federal approvals, including the CRTC and the Competition Bureau.

Quebecor chief executive Pierre Karl Peladeau told a committee of MPs, who are studying the Rogers-Shaw deal, that Videotron had originally wanted to become a national wireless carrier, but it sold its licences outside Quebec after scaling back its ambitions due to the enormous expense of building a new network.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

FILE – Residents of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory southwest of Montreal continue to monitor a blockade leading to blocked railroad tracks that pass through their community as they protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read