Trio of small Canadian mobile phone carriers split from industry lobby group

TORONTO – Three of Canada’s new mobile phone carriers have jointly announced they’re withdrawing from the industry’s lobby group, claiming it’s biased against their interests in favour of their big rivals.

Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity accused the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association of consistently taking positions that favour Canada’s three older, bigger carriers.

The trio of privately owned companies says the association promised to be a voice for all its members but has largely been an advocate for Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T).

“When we were first approached by the CWTA, we were promised clear and fair representation on issues of true industry alignment,” said Simon Lockie, Wind Mobile’s chief regulatory officer.

“But despite making our objections and concerns abundantly clear on numerous occasions, the CWTA has repeatedly failed to honour this promise, leaving us no alternative but to withdraw,” Lockie said Wednesday in a statement.

Public Mobile and Mobilicity made similar complaints.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association called the withdrawal unfortunate and rejected the allegations that it only works on behalf of its large members.

“CWTA has always and will continue to work on behalf of all of its members,” spokesman Marc Choma said.

“While any industry association that represents a large and diverse membership in an intensely competitive sector will have some disagreements amongst it members on certain issues, CWTA is a catalyst for numerous initiatives that bring many benefits to Canadians.”

The CWTA’s initiatives include a national cellphone recycling program, the upcoming stolen phone database, Wireless AMBER alerts and improvements to the 911 emergency call system, he said.

“The many contributions of Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile will certainly be missed, and CWTA would welcome their return to the association in the future.”

Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity emerged after the Canadian government moved to increase competition in 2008 when it reserved some wireless spectrum for new entrants.

Ottawa is preparing to hold another auction of radio spectrum that will allow carriers to build faster networks to handle consumers increased use of data and cover more area.

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