Any changes to foreign ownership rules should apply equally to big and small telecom players to create a level playing field, says the chief executive of Rogers Communications Inc.  

"If government wants to change the rules, then let's make sure we open up to everybody and let's not make it selective," CEO Nadir Mohamed said Friday.

Rogers isn't in favour of the federal government allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership for small Canadian telecom players with 10 per cent or less of the market, Mohamed said at a media roundtable discussion.

That would allow new players such as Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile, all which have come into the marketplace in the last two years, to benefit.

New spectrum auction

Wind Mobile was financially backed by Egyptian-based telecom Orascom, which is now owned by Russia's VimpelCom Group.   

Mohamed said that would mean Wind Mobile would benefit from global capital with no restrictions against players such as Rogers, which would be prevented from seeking such capital.

"If you're going to open it up, open it up for everyone."   

Industry Minister Christian Paradis may outline his plans on foreign ownership rules in the telecom industry next Tuesday in a speech at the International Institute of Communications conference in Ottawa.

'If government wants to change the rules, then let's make sure we open up to everybody.' — Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed

So far, Paradis has given few hints about federal government's plans for the telecommunications industry since he took over as minister last May.

In 2010, the Conservative government pledged to open up foreign ownership in the telecom industry.

Mohamed also said Rogers is opposed to any radio waves, called spectrum, being set aside for the new players to upgrade their wireless networks.

"It should be an open auction and government should just say, 'Look, all parties are welcome to bid."'

The federal government is expected to auction off the premium 700-megahertz wireless spectrum, which will give cellphone users better service in rural and urban settings, next year or in 2013.

The new cellphone carriers worry they will be outbid by the deep pockets of the established telecom companies Rogers, Bell and Telus, which don't want any special rules for the newcomers.


  • Christian Paradis is the federal minister of industry. He was misidentified as Pierre Paradis in an earlier version of this story.
    Oct 10, 2013 11:56 PM ET