In a statement on Thursday, Minister of Innovation, Science and Sector François-Philippe Champagne stated he will “simply not permit” the at this time proposed Rogers-Shaw merger, pointing exclusively to the transfer of wireless licenses.

“The wholesale transfer of Shaw’s wireless licenses to Rogers is essentially incompatible with our government’s procedures for spectrum and cell provider competitiveness,” the Minister claimed in the release.

Whilst this does not signify that the C$26 billion deal is off the desk, it does suggest that Rogers will have to meet up with much more stringent criteria to be compliant with laws. At present, the proposal is less than assessment by a few separate regulatory bodies: Canada’s Competitors Bureau, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and Innovation, Science and Financial Improvement Canada (ISED).

Craving for licenses

Rights to wireless spectrum are really sought just after by telcos. In the mid-band 3,500 MHz 5G spectrum auction held past calendar year, Canadian operators collectively paid out just about $9 billion for 1,495 licenses. The upcoming auction, scheduled for the 3,800MHz band in 2023, is envisioned to be just as heated.

“In addition to whole bandwidth and working frequency, a different dimension to spectrum value is in which area you can obtain or have that quantity of spectrum,” mentioned Xianbin Wang, Canada exploration chair in 5G and Wi-fi IoT Communications at Western University. “It’s very vital because that essentially defines the general telco’s business opportunities linked with that spectrum.”

Amid the ongoing merger procedure, Shaw and Flexibility Mobile abstained from the 3,500 MHz spectrum auction. In an e mail witnessed by Iphone in Canada in April 2021, Independence Mobile instructed workforce that its 5G community has been place on maintain indefinitely.

Yet, Liberty Cell nonetheless ordered 11 licenses in the 600 MHz 5G spectrum for C$492 million. Rogers also owns a significant swath of 600MHz spectrum, acquiring compensated C$1.7 billion for 52 licenses.

Universally disapproved

In the merger announcement, Rogers reported that attaining Shaw would assist bridge the electronic divide in urban Canada and benefit buyers. The organization promised to create a new $1 billion Rogers Rural and Indigenous Connectivity Fund to carry substantial-pace internet to underserved communities and prolong the Connected for Success program throughout Western Canada.

The proposed merger confronted rapid backlash from the total telecom current market. In a unusual minute of unity, Rogers’ key rivals Bell and Telus, along with a cohort of impartial support providers, protested that letting the offer would grant Rogers presiding ability above Canada’s telecommunications current market and erode level of competition.

Although Rogers, Bell and Telus are Canada’s ubiquitous provider services suppliers with signal coverage spanning across the state, Shaw is the dominant broadband world wide web provider service provider on the west coast. It owns an substantial fibre optic online community in key towns like Vancouver.

As a component of the offer, Rogers was to also receive Shaw’s subsidiary Liberty Cellular, which chiefly gives cellular companies in Ontario. Rogers mentioned that by absorbing Freedom Cellular, it would be in a much better position to compete versus Bell and Telus. This ingredient of the deal is under weighty scrutiny by regulators and seems not likely to be authorised.

As perfectly as its impact on wireless and broadband levels of competition, the merger would also see the consolidation of Shaw’s media brand names below Rogers’ name.

In a September 2021 filing to the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Bell alleged that “Rogers will be capable to command the availability of programming expert services in every single English-language sector on all readily available platforms as even the most well-known channels will require carriage on Rogers to endure,” reported the Globe and Mail.

According to the CBC, Bell had designed a bid to buy Shaw but gave up owing to potential regulatory challenges.

“As it stands, the proposed Rogers-Shaw transaction is contrary to the general public curiosity,” reported Pierre Karl Péladeau, main govt officer of Quebecor, mother or father business of telecom provider company Videotron, in a general public statement. “As Bell, Rogers and Telus currently control 90 for every cent of Canada’s wi-fi marketplace, it is very important that we make the needed problems for authentic levels of competition in get to give shoppers additional preference, better prices, superior products and services and extra innovation.”