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

Accused drug trafficker to plead to federal, provincial charges in June

Matthew Straume said he’d missed his last court date because he was ill

Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks sex crimes trial adjourned until summer

The trial was set to begin at the city courthouse Wednesday, May 5

Photo: Kathleen Saylors
Grand Forks city council votes down motion to support Penticton in paramountcy battle

Coun. Neil Krog insisted Penticton’s issue with Victoria is about city bylaws, not homelessness

The burnt-out remains of a fifth-wheel trailer stand at Highway 3, near the Kettleside RV Park Wednesday, May 5. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks fire department investigating fifth-wheel blaze

Two people in the trailer escaped without injury, according to Dep. Fire Chief Stephane Dionne

Bob Keating was CBC’s Kootenays correspondent for 21 years. He retired last month to start a podcasting company. Photo: Tyler Harper
The voice of the Kootenays: CBC correspondent Bob Keating retires

Keating had reported out of Nelson since 2000

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Most Read