BCE and Telus call on government to block Quebecor’s purchase of 5G spectrum in Western Canada

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BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. are asking the Federal Court to block Quebecor Inc.’s purchase of 5G spectrum in Western Canada, saying the company did not meet the requirements to bid on the airwaves there.

The legal challenges come after an auction of a key 5G spectrum by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada this summer.

The companies said Quebecor’s subsidiary Videotron was able to purchase spectrum in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, which was reserved for smaller carriers, allowing it to access the airwaves at a lower price. to that of the largest Canadian carriers.

Bell stated that spectrum reserved for small carriers was only eligible for companies that have pre-existing operations in the jurisdiction, and argued that Quebecor does not have a presence in those provinces.

Telus and Bell are asking the court to block the purchase of Quebecor and the government to renew the auction.

However, Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau said his company qualifies because its subsidiary Fibrenoire Inc. provides services to businesses in several provinces outside Quebec.

“Detailed evidence regarding these activities was provided to ISED during the auction application process. It is on the basis of this evidence that ISDE correctly determined Videotron’s eligibility. Péladeau said in a statement.

“This is just another attempt by Bell and Telus to eliminate real competition, but Canadians deserve better than today’s overpriced wireless market.”

Telus acknowledged Fibrenoire’s services in its court case, but said the company is focused on providing services in Ontario and Quebec.

“In Quebecor’s press release describing the acquisition of Fibrenoire by Videotron, Fibrenoire is described as:” a telecommunications company specializing exclusively in fiber optic connectivity services for businesses in Quebec and Ontario “, Telus said in its notice of application in Federal Court.

“Fibrenoire continues to describe himself in a similar fashion today.”

Bell also said there is no indication that Fibrenoire solicits business from companies in Manitoba, Alberta or British Columbia.

It argued that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada did not properly analyze or examine Videotron’s request.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada declined to comment on the case while it is in court.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 30, 2021.


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