BCE-Manitoba Telecom deal will drive up wireless prices and ensure less choice for Canadians
Erosion of choice bad for customers in Manitoba and furthers BCE control over the national market
May 2, 2016–
Canada’s largest telecom company has made public a plan to takeover Manitoba’s largest phone, Internet and cell phone company, Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTE). BCE Inc. is set to acquire MTS in a $3.9 billion deal which is likely to hurt customers in Manitoba, where the telecom provider helped to serve consumers some of the most affordable wireless plans in the country.
“Further market concentration in a country that already pays some of the highest rates for wireless and Internet service in the industrialized world, will only serve to hurt Canadians’ pocketbooks,” said OpenMedia Access Campaigner Katy Anderson.
Anderson continued: “These telecom giants have been coddled by the government for too long and Internet and wireless services are far too important to leave in their hands. We know that the Big Three cell phone providers already control over 90 per cent of the market and this deal will make the problem even worse.”
Presently, prices for wireless plans are 30 to 40 per cent lower in Manitoba compared to provinces that only have three major wireless providers. The Competition Bureau previously found that the Big Three wireless providers (Bell, Telus, Rogers) have undue market power in “the ability of a firm or firms to profitably maintain prices above competitive levels (or similarly restrict non-price dimensions of competition) for a significant period of time.”
The move comes only days after the CRTC completed a basic services hearing about broadband Internet in Canada, for which OpenMedia prepared a brief and spoke before the Commission, arguing that broadband Internet should be considered an essential service, affordable for 100 per cent of Canadians. BCE’s acquisition of MTS still needs to be approved by Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. OpenMedia is calling on the Commission to reject the deal.
OpenMedia has worked with hundreds of thousands of Canadians to crowdsource wireless and wireline policy plans that outline how the government can increase choice, lower prices and users in world-class telecom services in Canada.
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.