About 500 Telus employees rallied outside Industry Minister James Moore’s Port Moody, B.C. constituency office on Thursday to protest what they believe would be an unfair advantage for Verizon in Canada’s mobile market, Coquitlam Now reported.
The protesters, who were bused in by Telus, said they wanted a level playing field ahead of a wireless spectrum auction in which Verizon could bid. The rally came as the Big Three — Bell, Rogers and Telus — combat the Harper government over its rules that allow new entrants, possibly including Verizon, to purchase more wireless spectrum.
Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall said the company would welcome competition from Verizon, but wants fairness, according to Coquitlam Now.
“[It's] a foreign company getting a two-for-one advantage over Canadian firms and that's just not right," he said. "All we're saying is put us on an equal footing with them."
Under the rules, Verizon would be able to bid for two out of the four blocks of spectrum up for grabs, while the Big Three would be allowed to bid only on one block of spectrum each.
“Spectrum’s a scare resource, just like water or natural gas. So why would we let an American company buy twice what Telus can?” Telus executive Josh Blair told CKNW.
The Harper government has stood behind its rules in the name of competition and lower cellphone rates, and Moore has travelled across Canada defending them.
“These large companies have very high profits, the highest profits in the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development], at the same time Canadian consumers are paying some of the highest cellphone rates in the OECD. I think we can do better than that as a country,” he said.
Moore has also slammed Big Telecom over its promotional campaign, which he called “misleading” and “dishonest.”
According to a recent Forum Research poll, 57 per cent of those surveyed said they want foreign companies to enter the Canadian market, and 65 per cent said foreign companies shouldn’t have “preferential access” in the wireless spectrum auction, scheduled for January, The Globe and Mail reported.