‘That was then; this is now.’

Is it not amazing how a few more nickels in your tin cup can change your attitude? Did you listen to how the Shaw executive on Monday changed his tune about the importance of Freedom Mobile? One wonders just who he thought he was kidding? No doubt he used to be one of those telling MPs and regulators how important it was to have Freedom Mobile providing some competition in the cell phone business. Surely the members of parliament on the federal government’s industry, science and technology committee could not have been impressed.

All it takes is an offer of $20 billion for Shaw shareholders. Would you not whistle a different tune for a cut of that pie? And it was not just the $20 billion. Eastern behemoth Rogers would also be taking over $6 billion of Shaw’s debt as part of the deal. That amount of money owed must have been weighing heavily on the shareholders’ shoulders.

It is interesting that the Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile was supposed to be offering consumers some choice and cost relief in Canada’s over-priced cell phone market. Now, we are told, it is not so important.

The real question here is whether the government can allow the triumvirate of Bell, Rogers and Telus to rule the Canadian telecom market? The idea might not sit well with Canadian voters. And there could be an election later this year. And, to think, Rogers Communications used to be known for its smart timing.

The possibility of an election must have been why all the MPs questioning the telecom executives where asking the same questions. They were there to protect the consumer, where they not?

MPs from western Canada must have felt particularly under the gun. Rogers would hardly have need for a second head office in Calgary. That city has enough problems with its dominant oil industry. It hardly needs the ultimate job losses as Rogers shifts Shaw’s management to the east.

To counter this, Rogers was making all kinds of promises. They mentioned fifth-generation (5G) networks for the west and rural high speed broadband networks for their phones and computers. What these would cost consumers was not discussed.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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