The potential introduction of U.S. telecom giant Verizon into Canada's wireless market has some consumers hoping more competition will shrink cell phone bills, but a telecom expert says that's unlikely.
"I don't think there will be that much impact at all, really," said Greg O'Brien, editor of cartt.ca, an online magazine about the telecom industry.
"Verizon is a premium carrier in the United States, they're not a low-cost carrier. They're not like Target or Walmart, you know, in the retail space, they're more like Nordstrom," an American upscale fashion retailer. "So it would be another premium carrier coming into the market," he said.
"I don't really see how it would benefit Verizon to come in and chop prices."
Verizon Communications, which has 100 million U.S. customers, is eyeing the Canadian market with a potential takeover of start-ups Wind Mobile or Mobilicity.
The move comes after the federal government made changes in 2012 to the telecommunications rules that allowed foreign entities to enter the Canadian sector.
3 Canadian carriers oppose 'advantages'
There's been much speculation that Verizon could possibly offer Canadians lower rates, more premium-priced contracts with better service, and eliminate roaming charges when customers travel anywhere in North America.
But the three big Canadian telecom companies — Bell, Rogers and Telus — have cried foul over the the telecom rules, saying they put them at a competitive disadvantage.
O'Brien says the main dispute is over equal access to wireless signals.
"The way the rules are set up to favour the small newcomers, it actually favours Verizon over the Canadian companies," he said.
'The way the rules have been set up, they could give an unfair advantage to a large American company, a company that is [in] itself larger than the whole Canadian wireless industry.'—Bernard Lord, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association
Verizon would be allowed to piggyback on existing infrastructure, which would eliminate the need to hire staff outside Canada's major cities, said O'Brien.
He also doubts Verizon would invest in the Atlantic provinces. Instead, it would likely focus on the corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City, he said.
The head of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association says big companies, such as Bell, Rogers and Telus, welcome competition — even from Verizon.
But the playing field has to be fair, said president and CEO Bernard Lord.
"The concern is that the way the rules have been set up, they could give an unfair advantage to a large American company, a company that is [in] itself larger than the whole Canadian wireless industry," he said.