Videotron Wants Trudeau to Maintain Harper’s Telecom Policies

  • CEO Manon Brouillette says fourth carrier policy still needed
  • Quebec-based Videotron has about 800,000 wireless customers

Justin Trudeau’s government should keep his conservative predecessor’s policy of promoting regional Canadian wireless competitors against giants like BCE Inc., said the chief executive officer of mobile-phone carrier Videotron.

The new government should also continue the previous administration’s push for lower prices for consumers by pressing for a fourth wireless carrier in each region, Manon Brouillette, who heads the unit of Montreal-based Quebecor Inc. said in a speech Wednesday at the Canadian Telecom Summit.

“We are requesting that the government will continue to believe in having sustainable competition,’’ Brouillette said in an interview after the speech. “We still need help to be able to be there in 10 years from now because we’re still new entrants,’’ she said of Videotron and other smaller carriers. Videotron has about 800,000 wireless customers, while BCE, Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. have more than 8 million each.

Over much of its decade in power, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government tried to prop up new entrants by giving them subsidized prices on spectrum, forcing larger companies to let smaller ones use their networks at regulated prices and blocking some attempts at consolidation. Since Trudeau’s Liberals took power last October, the telecom companies big and small have waited to see if the new government will continue such an active role in shaping the industry.

Brouillette’s comments contrasted with those of former Harper government minister Maxime Bernier, who said Tuesday his former boss’s policies wasted billions of dollars in potential government revenue by dolling out spectrum at subsidized rates. Bernier is running for leadership of the Conservative party.

Trudeau’s government has so far been silent on how it will govern spectrum auctions or whether it will approve consolidation deals that will shrink the number of players in a market, such as BCE’s proposed acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

“Canadians have seen real benefits from the fourth entrant initiative across much of the country,’’ Brouillette said. “Seeing Mr. Trudeau and his party being so open to Canadians, I have confidence that they will keep that focus when it comes time to intervene in telecom.’’

A spokesman for the the Ministry of innovation, Science and Economic Development, which is responsible for telecommunications policy, wasn’t immediate available to comment.

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