Canadian service providers want common ownership rules

If the Canadian government decides to make any changes enabling foreigners to own bigger stakes in one of its country's service providers, Canada's three largest service providers argue that the changes should be equal for both broadcasters and telecom operators.

During a parliamentary hearing yesterday, three of Canada's largest service providers--BCE, Rogers Communications and Telus--argued that every service provider should be part of the rule changing process because their networks carry multiple communications media, including everything from PSTN calls, video and broadband data.

"Fairness requires equal treatment for all Canadian carriers," said Michael Hennessy, senior vice-president of regulatory and government affairs at Telus during the hearing. "Parliament must recognize that communications today is an integrated business and you cannot effect change without changing the Telecommunications Act and parts of the Broadcasting Act at the same time."

These hearings are focused on whether the Canadian government could increase how much a foreign company could own a piece of a Canadian-based service provider. Proponents argue that by increasing foreign ownership, Canada will not only boost competition, but also create new jobs and facilitate technology innovation.  

Fearing that Canadian companies would simply disappear if the rules were changed, foreign companies can only own 20 percent of a company's shares, while direct and indirect foreign control is capped at 46.7 percent. While Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein also wants to foster greater competition, he believes that foreigners should not own more than a 49 percent stake in a Canadian telecom provider.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

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