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CRTC’s MVNO decision reflects ‘right mentality’ on facilities-based competition and rates: Telus CEO

News | 05/07/2021 5:36 pm EDT
Telus CEO Darren Entwistle. /Screenshot via YouTube

Echoing his counterparts at BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corp. CEO Darren Entwistle Friday morning said that April’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) decision from the CRTC was somewhat aligned” with policies promoting facilities-based competition in the wireless market. 

The decision, which restricted mandated MVNO access to regional players with spectrum assets for a seven-year period, is “not as aligned as what I would like, or what I think would be appropriate, but it seems to be somewhat aligned with consistent facilities-based policy coming out of our regulator,” Entwistle said on a Friday morning first-quarter earnings call with financial analysts. 

In April, Rogers CEO Joe Natale said he found the certainty of the decision “helpful,” and that  the company “can proceed with investments, knowing that the government is supportive of facilities-based competition and facilities-based approach to our market.” 

Also last month, Bell CEO Mirko Bibic said the decision “supports the major investments that we are making into the network. And we hope that the federal government and the decision of the CRTC will continue to make decisions that will support our investments.”

On the call Friday, Entwistle said he doesn’t expect to see the limited-MVNO model roll out until 2022, and told analysts “let’s wait and see what happens.” 

Entwistle also praised the CRTC’s decision not to set rates for the mandated access, instead deferring to commercially negotiated rates between parties, backstopped by CRTC adjudication. 

“I think that’s the right mentality to make sure that people get a fair return on investments they’ve made in their networks, in their spectrum, in the security of those networks, and of course a fair markup on top of that. I like the fact that that’s left for commercial adjudication between the parties,” Entwistle said. 

On Tuesday, Data on Tap Inc. filed a petition to the governor in council, asking the government of Justin Trudeau to review the April decision of the CRTC to only mandate access to incumbent mobile networks for a limited number of regional operators.

For the three months that ended on March 31, Telus’ revenues climbed 8.9 per cent to $4.02 billion, up from $3.69 billion the company reported for the same period last year. The company’s profits dipped 5.7 per cent, down to $333 million from the $353 million Telus pulled in a year ago. 

In the wireless sector, Telus reported adding 31,000 phone subscribers, a 47.6 per cent jump from the 21,000 the company reported in the first quarter of last year, which included the early COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. The company reported a total of 8.95 million wireless subscribers. 

“The stronger net adds number reflects the higher loading numbers we have been seeing across the industry” in the first quarter, Canaccord Genuity analyst Aravinda Galappatthige wrote in a Friday morning note. 

Mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) fell to $56.10, down from $58.24 the company posted a year ago. 

The company also added 63,000 wireless connected device subscribers, a 28.6 per cent jump from the 49,000 it added in the same quarter last year, for a total of 1.86 million total wireless connected device subscribers. 

On the wireline side, Telus added 33,000 internet subscribers, a 26.9 per cent jump from the 26,000 the company added this time last year, for a total of 2.16 million internet subscribers. The company also reported adding 11,000 television subscribers, a 37.5 per cent jump from the 8,000 the company added a year ago. 

— Reporting by Michael Lee-Murphy at mleemurphy@thewirereport.ca and editing by Hannah Daley at hdaley@thewirereport.ca

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