OTTAWA — Industry Minister James Moore's office confirms there is no Plan B to increase wireless market competition even though Verizon has hung up on expansion into Canada.
Moore's spokeswoman Jessica Fletcher says the January auction of space on the Canadian wireless signal spectrum will take place regardless of the American telecom giant's decision.
"The result of the auction will be positive for Canadian consumers, regardless of outcome, because the rules were designed with their interests up front," Fletcher wrote in an e-mail.
The auction is structured to offer a bigger piece of the spectrum to new competitors than to existing companies — something that led Bell, Rogers and Telus to go on a summer offensive against rules they say are unfair.
Despite that, Verizon's chief executive Lowell McAdam said Tuesday Verizon isn't interested in the Canadian market because there are "much better returns for our shareholders than going into Canada."
"So, we never really seriously looked at this -- I mean, we looked at it but we never seriously considered the move," said McAdam. "And it's off the table at this point."
Neither Moore's office nor the Prime Minister's Office would say whether the Conservatives are now worried that no big, new competitor would emerge to give Canada's traditional telecom giants a run for their money.
Companies have until Sept. 17 to register for the January spectrum auction.
NDP industry critic Chris Charlton accused Moore of dropping the ball on increased wireless competition.
"If the minister's goal was to create solid competition, he's failed to create an environment for that to happen," said Charlton.
She says she would have preferred to see Moore give smaller Canadian wireless companies a leg up in competing with the players that dominate the market.
"We let a number of new entrants come into the field in the last spectrum auction and we haven't created the kind of policy environment that allowed them to succeed," said Charlton.
Bernard Lord, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, represents Canada's existing mobile phone companies and sees things differently.
He says Verizon's decision "probably indicates it's a very competitive marketplace already."
Lord says he still doesn't think new entrants in the Canadian market should be able to bid for more wireless spectrum in January's auction than existing companies can.
"There may be somebody else out there, some other foreign company, that may want to come in to take advantage of these loopholes," he said.