Canadian telecom firms aim their rifles at Verizon

Three of Canada’s biggest wireless companies will be using the revelations of Verizon’s alleged involvement in the NSA spying program – exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden – to help take down the company’s plans to set up in the country.

The attack comes after increasing fears by the “big three” – Rogers Communications, BCE Inc and Telus Corp.

As a result, the Canadian government has been under heavy lobbying to prevent Verizon from entering Canada. The campaign focuses on instilling fears that the company’s presence could mean increased surveillance and therefore reducing the privacy of citizens.

If the three decide to run with the campaign; it would mean adverts in local papers, on the radio, and online will start appearing as early as next week.

The question is, why such a radical team-up between usual rivals? It’s once again a battle over spectrums. Four new blocks are set to become available in 2014 for which – as a new entrant under current rules – Verizon could bid for two blocks; whereas existing operators could only apply for two.

Whilst not quite as extreme as the spectrum bid which placed EE in the UK with a 10 month exclusivity period of 4G (launching October 30 – rival’s O2 and Vodafone launch on August 29) it still means placing Verizon with a competitive advantage needed to run mobile services.

“They’re either going to have to fold their tents and live with this, or win the fight,” said a GlobalPost source. “If they are going to win the fight they obviously need much more aggressive tactics.”

It doesn’t seem like the Canadian government will budge on their rules either, backing up their stance in the aim to ensure there are four major telecoms providers operating in Canada.

A website – Fair For Canada – has been launched which states policy loopholes “give giant American corporations an advantage in the wireless spectrum bidding process.”

The deadline for bidders to register for the auction is September 17, and the auction is due to start on January 14 next year.

Verizon has declined to comment on this story.

What do you think about Verizon’s possible presence in Canada, and the campaign against it from the three major providers operating in the country?

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