Fairness at stake in wireless debate

I am writing in response to the recent coverage of the debate over Canada’s wireless sector and the concern for fair access to spectrum.

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the recent coverage of the debate over Canada’s wireless sector and the concern for fair access to spectrum.

As the general manager for Telus throughout the interior of British Columbia, this is a topic that hits home for me.

It should also hit home to anyone using a cell phone in the area.

We have consistently stressed that our concerns were never about Verizon coming into Canada; rather, at stake is a very simple principle: fairness. Is Ottawa about to give any large foreign entity a two-for-one advantage over domestic incumbents in the upcoming spectrum auction?

This is not some academic policy question that affects only bureaucrats in Ottawa or CEOs in office towers.

It will directly affect people in communities just like our own.

Let me offer just one example.

Companies like Telus invest billions to build cellphone networks in rural areas like our own. These networks are relied upon for everything from calls to friends and families to 911 emergency services. A foreign company will have made no such similar investments and is unlikely to even make future promises of such investments.

Telus makes no complaint about competing against big foreign companies. But we think it should be at least on a fair basis.

Why give the biggest companies in the world who have made no commitment to Canada or Canadian consumers huge advantages?

Telus is headquartered in British Columbia and we employ thousands here in the province and across the country. We spend billions to serve areas like this one. And we invest millions more back into the community with our support for local charities.

Just like water or natural gas, spectrum is a scarce Canadian resource. If you support a fair approach — one that serves the people of this region directly, one that encourages competition without giving away this precious resource to huge foreign companies, then please communicate your support for a fair wireless policy to your local MP and decision-makers in Ottawa.

Steve Jenkins

General Manager, Interior South B.C., Telus

 

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