Government of Canada okays WIND Mobile launch, overturning CRTC decision

December 16th, 2009

Industry Canada announced today that the government, through the Privy Council Office, has effectively overturned a decision by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regarding the status of Globalive Wireless Management Corporation, which was set to launch in November under the WIND Mobile brand.

In a release issued this morning, Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, is quoted as saying “Globalive is a Canadian company, and meets Canadian ownership and control requirements under the Telecommunications Act,” differing with the CRTC’s decision, where they ruled that control-in-fact of Globalive was with Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E., the corporation holding much of Globalive’s equity and debt.

A decision had been rendered under Canadian Ownership and Control regulations by Industry Canada at the time of the Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) auction held in 2007–2008, at which time they had ruled that Globalive did meet the tests of ownership and control under the same regulation, as referenced by the Order-in-Council included with the government’s announcement this morning.

With the decision by the government, Globalive is now permitted to launch their wireless service, which is expected to occur in the Calgary and Toronto markets in time for the busy holiday shopping season.

“This is a new day for wireless in Canada. This holiday season we will start to provide Canadians with the competitive choice that they want and deserve,” said Anthony Lacavera, Chairman and CEO of Globalive Communications Corporation, in a release sent out today.

Not everyone was quite as enthusiastic, however, with Michael Hennessey, Senior VP of Regulatory and Government Affairs for TELUS Communications quoted as saying “If Wind is Canadian then so was King Tut,” in a comment posted to Twitter, according to the CBC.

TELUS had led the charge in requesting the CRTC review the ownership structure of Globalive/WIND, and had received support from Shaw Communications, along with new entrant Public Mobile, all of whom were reported to have signed an open letter to Industry Minister Clement published in Parliament Hill newspaper The Hill Times upon the announcement that he would be reviewing said decision by the CRTC.

There is no word yet on whether TELUS or other carriers will attempt to appeal the ruling. 

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