Technology & Science

New wireless entrant's launch is back on track

Globalive Holdings said its plans for launching a new mobile phone network are back on track after the CRTC agreed to quicken the pace of a review of the company's ownership structure.

Globalive Holdings says its plan to launch a new mobile phone network in Canada are back on track after the CRTC agreed to quicken a review of the company's ownership structure.

Globalive chairman Anthony Lacavera had said Monday the company might have to delay plans to launch its wireless network by the end of the year after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it would hold a two-day hearing in September to review the complex corporate structure and financial arrangements of Globalive.

At issue for Globalive was the CRTC's original plan to follow the hearing with a decision within 120 days, a time frame that would have impacted the company's plans to have its wireless network up and running in Toronto and Vancouver by the end of 2009 and in other cities in 2010.

But the CRTC issued a correction Tuesday, saying it would now reach a decision within 30 days of the hearing.

At issue is the financial backing Globalive receives from Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding SAE. Foreign ownership of telecommunications firms in Canada is limited to 20 per cent of the voting shares of an operating company and one-third for a holding company.

Industry Canada approved Globalive's ownership after the company paid $442 million in 2008 for wireless spectrum across Canada with the idea of launching its own national cellphone network.

In April, however, Telus and Shaw Communications called on the CRTC to make that review process more transparent and "immediately initiate" a review of Globalive.

Globalive is one of three companies new to the wireless industry that are expected to launch their networks across Canada in the next year.

Public Mobile, backed by several private-equity firms, has said it plans to launch a $40 unlimited talk-and-text service in Ontario and Quebec late in the third quarter of 2009, building its network from Windsor to Quebec City using a block of spectrum it acquired at the auction that other players, including the incumbents, chose to ignore.

Toronto-based Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc., or DAVE Wireless, the company headed by entrepreneur John Bitove, has said it plans to launch service in early 2010 for Toronto and expand to other cities shortly thereafter.