Telus vows fight against 'cartel-like' moves in telecom

The Globe and Mail

Darren Entwistle, CEO of Telus Inc.

Telus Corp.'s chief executive officer says he remains unconvinced that owning media content adds value to a telecommunications company and that he will file a regulatory complaint if any of his rivals try to make their offerings exclusive on wireless devices.

Darren Entwistle, who said he would fight "cartel-like" behaviour in his industry, made the remarks to reporters shortly after giving a lunch speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto.

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With rivals like BCE Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. making bids to buy CTV Inc. and CanWest Global Communications Corp.'s TV assets, respectively, industry watchers have painted Telus as the odd one out of the most recent bout of industry convergence, since both Rogers Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. already own media properties.

Whether the federal regulator will set exclusivity rules on wireless devices the same way it does on more dominant technologies, such as cable TV, remains to be seen, since the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has to determine whether the content owner is giving "undue preference" to itself and harming the diversity of choices available to Canadians. Bell Canada, for example, made certain live broadcasts of the Vancouver Olympics exclusive on its own smart phones.

In his remarks to reporters, Mr. Entwistle touched on several industry trends, including the commoditization of, and decline in prices for, wireless voice pricing and his belief that the same fate likely applies to wireless smart phone data over the long term. He said that new competitors will eventually force some changes in pricing, and confirmed that a new unlimited wireless voice plan in Quebec - which the company does not offer anywhere else in Canada - is a result of new competition from Quebecor's telecom division, Vidéotron Ltée, which recently launched wireless service.

Mr. Entwistle also elaborated at length on Telus's push into the health care space, a decade-old bet that Telus has made on hospitals spending billions to upgrade technology. He also talked briefly about Research In Motion Ltd.'s PlayBook tablet computer, saying it would play into the company's push toward more business customers.

"I'm bullish on the PlayBook," he said, adding Apple Inc.'s iPad is "not all things to all people."