* Trio complain of bias in favor of established operators
* Trade group rejects claim, says disagreement inevitable
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, April 10 The three companies that
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 that dominate the sector.
The trio - Vimpelcom Ltd's Wind Mobile, and
privately held Public Mobile and Mobilicity - said on Wednesday
that as a result of their withdrawal, the Canadian Wireless
Telecommunications Association (CWTA) could 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," Gary Wong, Mobilicity's
director of legal affairs, said in the joint statement.
The CWTA called the withdrawal "unfortunate and surprising"
and rejected the claim of bias.
While the group acknowledged what it said were inevitable
disagreements among its members, it pointed to a range of
initiatives it helped shape, including anti-spam regulation,
number portability, a phone recycling program, and stolen phone
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
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 might sell
itself, with Vimpelcom saying it would consider various options
for Wind, including divestment.