updated 11:20 am EST, Fri December 11, 2009
Globalive cleared to rival Bell, Rogers, Telus
The Canadian government today cleared Globalive to run what should be the country's fourth national carrier. After initially letting the CRTC reject Globalive's WIND service due to concerns about foreign ownership, Industry Minister Tony Clement now says the results have been overturned as it's been decided that the foreign investment in the company doesn't constitute "in fact" control that would violate Canadian ownership laws. The decision takes effect immediately and clears WIND to run as soon as it's ready.
The move is expected to significantly expand Canada's relatively closed cellphone market. Unlike the US, where four major national carriers operate and are also countered by numerous more regionalized carriers like Alltel and Cellular South, Canada's cellular market is dominated almost entirely by Bell, Rogers and Telus. This market recently opened up with all three running similar HSPA 3G networks, but plans are often similar and sometimes provide little to no difference in features.
Smartphone owners in particular are often limited in Canada as they often receive fewer voice minutes for the money and have relatively low data caps. In some cases, though, providers compensate by allowing data tethering without paying extra and often include MMS/SMS messaging in the bundle.
Incumbents are known to have vehemently opposed Globalive's efforts and championed the original CRTC decision as it would have prevented a new competitor from challenging their dominance.
WIND should initially use its acquired 2GHz spectrum to roll out an HSPA-based phone network. Among its initial plans have been to offer unlimited data for smartphones, including tethering.