Canadian MNOs withdraw from CWTA over balance of power

Smaller operators and new entrants to the market appear to be growing increasingly frustrated by the power wielded by the industry’s big players. This trend was evident this week, as three of Canada’s smaller operators announced their withdrawal from industry body the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA).

Dawinderpal Sahota

April 11, 2013

2 Min Read
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VimpelCom is exiting Canada

Three of Canada’s smaller operators have announced their withdrawal from industry body the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity claim the association consistently shows bias towards the country’s three largest operators.

The three operators leaving the association are dwarfed by the country’s leading players in terms of subscriber numbers. Between them, Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity have a combined total of 1.245 million subscribers, according to Informa’s WCIS, compared with Rogers (9.47 million), Bell Wireless (7.64 million) and Telus (7.61 million).

The challenger triumvirate voiced their mounting frustration with the CWTA’s “consistent bias” in favour of Rogers, Bell and Telus on a wide variety of issues.

“From this point, the CWTA does not, and cannot claim to, speak on behalf of the Canadian mobile wireless sector,” the three said in a combined statement.

Simon Lockie, chief regulatory officer at Wind Mobile explained that when the operator was first approached by the CWTA, it was promised a fair representation on industry issues.

“But despite making our objections and concerns abundantly clear on numerous occasions, the CWTA has repeatedly failed to honour this promise, leaving us no alternative but to withdraw,” he said.

Gary Wong, director of legal affairs at Mobilicity added:  “There seems to be a blatant disregard of the new entrants in favour of acting in the best interests of the Big Three carriers and it is unacceptable.”

The CWTA responded by saying that the announcement was unfortunate and surprising. It added that it rejects the accusation that it represents the interests of only certain members.

“While any industry association that represents a large and diverse membership in an intensely competitive sector will have some disagreements amongst its members on certain issues, CWTA is a catalyst for numerous initiatives that bring many benefits to Canadians,” the association said in a statement.

It added that it would welcome the return of the trio to the association in the future.

The move marks a growing frustration among smaller operators and new entrants to telecoms markets towards the power wielded by the industry’s big players. According to trade body the European Telecoms Association (ECTA). the situation is no different in Europe.

“There are more that a 100 operators in Europe and the ones that are most represented in the industry are the ones with the biggest market share,” said a spokesperson.“The views of the bigger operators are normally the most influential in industry bodies.”

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