Canadian Cable Giant Wants Level Playing Field Against Verizon

Rogers Communications calls for Ottawa to deny favorable treatment as American carrier looks to enter the local market and buy upstart Wind Mobile.

TORONTO – Canada’s biggest cable and mobile phone giant wants Ottawa to deny favorable treatment as Verizon considers a cross-border shopping expedition.

Nadir Mohamed, CEO of Rogers Communications, on Wednesday marched into a debate on whether to allow the U.S. phone giant to acquire upstart Canadian wireless phone provider Wind Mobile for around $700 million.

"We can't have a U.S. foreign incumbent be allowed to buy new entrants at depressed pricing by blocking the ability of incumbent Canadian players to do the same. So it's about parity,” Mohamed told analysts after Rogers released its second quarter financial results.

The prospect of New York-based Verizon shaking up a Canadian mobile phone market dominated by Rogers, BCE and Telus is welcomed by the federal government as it eyes more competition and lower wireless phone charges for frustrated consumers.

Ottawa earlier denied a bid by Telus to buy another smaller carrier, Mobilicity.

Mohamed urged the federal government to ensure a level playing field for incumbent Canadian players, now that Verizon is sniffing around for local carriers to build out its American network north of the border.

"What we're absolutely against is a tilted or stacked playing field where you have a massive incumbent U.S. carrier that would be given favorable treatment, and frankly better treatment than Canadian incumbents," Mohamed said.

Earlier Wednesday, Rogers posted earnings for the three months to June 30 at $532 million, up sharply from a $413 million profit in 2012, on overall revenue up 3 percent to $3.2 billion.