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Press release from CNW Group

Bell supports federal public hearings on the wireless loopholes

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bell supports federal public hearings on the wireless loopholes

18:53 EDT Monday, August 26, 2013
  • Federal Industry committee to decide tomorrow whether to review the government's wireless policy in public hearings
  • Canadians would clearly welcome a public discussion of how to ensure a level competitive playing field in Canadian wireless

MONTREAL, Aug. 26, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell today added its voice to those calling for an urgent review of the federal government's wireless policy by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Tomorrow, the committee will meet behind closed doors to decide whether to hold public hearings into the 3 loopholes in the policy that give major US companies special advantages at the expense of all Canadians.

"Recent polls clearly show the vast majority of Canadians want a fair and level competitive playing field in wireless. 81% of people in a recent Nanos Research poll said they don't want any company to be given special benefits to compete," said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE. "Public hearings are the ideal opportunity for open and constructive dialogue among consumers, government and industry to find a solution to the problem of the wireless loopholes."

The 3 loopholes in the wireless rules give major US companies like Verizon these advantages: 1) preferred access to Canada's crucial wireless spectrum, 2) the right to piggyback on Canadian carrier networks, and 3) the right to acquire struggling companies in Canada that Canadian companies like Bell can't buy. Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to the Prime Minister with their concerns about the loopholes, and national and provincial organizations of all kinds representing millions of Canadians have also made their concerns public.

"Like Canadians across the country, Bell believes in fair competition on a level playing field," said Mirko Bibic, Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer for Bell. "But the policy in place tilts the playing field in favour of well-funded US carriers, an approach that Canadians clearly don't support. It is time for a fair, open and transparent dialogue about the wireless rules through public hearings."

Two recent national surveys, by Nanos Research (www.nanosresearch.com) and Forum Research (www.forumresearch.com), found that Canadians support wireless competition but the vast majority (81% in Nanos survey and 65% in Forum survey) do not believe that any company, foreign or Canadian, should be given special advantages to compete. Bell agrees and calls on Ottawa to close the 3 wireless loopholes by:

  • Letting all carriers bid on two blocks of prime spectrum in the upcoming auction of Canada's 700 MHz airwaves - not just US carriers.
  • Requiring any US carrier that enters Canada to build out to the entire country, including rural areas.
  • Giving Canadian wireless incumbents the chance to bid against the major US companies to acquire wireless startups seeking buyers.

To learn more about this situation, please visit FairForCanada.ca.

About Bell
Headquartered in Montréal since its founding in 1880, Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers, business and government customers with leading TV, Internet, wireless, home phone and business communications solutions. Bell Media is Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital media. Bell is wholly owned by Montréal's BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For more information, please visit Bell.ca.

The Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative is a national charitable program that promotes Canadian mental health across Canada with the Bell Let's Talk Day anti-stigma campaign and significant funding for community care, research and workplace best practices. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

SOURCE: Bell Canada

For further information:

Media inquiries:
Jean Charles Robillard
Bell Communications
(514) 870-4739
jean_charles.robillard@bell.ca

Investor inquiries:
Thane Fotopoulos
BCE Investor Relations
(514) 870-4619
thane.fotopoulos@bell.ca

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