Small Canadian wireless players pull out of industry group

TORONTO, April 10 Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:31am EDT

TORONTO, April 10 (Reuters) - The three companies who entered Canada's wireless market after a 2008 auction of airwaves have pulled out of the industry's main trade group, complaining that it is biased in favor of established competitors who dominate the sector.

The trio - Vimpelcom Ltd's Wind Mobile, and privately held Public Mobile and Mobilicity - said as a result of their withdrawal, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) can no longer claim to speak on behalf of the entire industry.

"There seems to be a blatant disregard of the new entrants in favor of acting in the best interests of the Big Three carriers and it is unacceptable," Mobilicity's director of legal affairs, Gary Wong, said in the joint statement on Wednesday.

The CWTA did not immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment.

Canada's wireless sector is dominated by BCE Inc's Bell, Rogers Communications Inc and Telus Corp, which together command a 90 percent share.

The three upstart companies were able to buy spectrum after the federal government made some of it off-limits to the dominant players in a 2008 auction in an attempt to increase competition.

While the aggressive pricing of the new entrants has forced the established operators to work harder to retain customers, the smaller players have had limited success in building their own customer bases.

As another auction of valuable spectrum nears, speculation has increased that at least one of the new entrants could sell itself, with Vimpelcom saying it would consider various options for Wind, including divestment. ()

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