Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications expect their historic $26 billion dollar merger to close by next Friday, at the latest, after clearing the final regulatory hurdle today with the approval of the transfer of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile to Videotron by Innovation, Science & Industry (ISED) Min. François-Philippe Champagne.
“We are very pleased to move forward with this transformative merger and proudly deliver on our commitments to enhance and expand network coverage, connect underserved communities, and improve access for low-income Canadians,” said Tony Staffieri, President & CEO of Rogers, in a release. “Building on a shared legacy with Shaw, we will invest substantially to bring more choice, more value, and more connectivity to Canadians across the country.”
“Today begins an exciting new chapter for the future of connectivity in Canada,” added Brad Shaw, Executive Chair & CEO, Shaw. “In today’s telecommunications industry, we recognize that companies need even greater scale to compete and make ongoing investments for future technology. This merger will provide the scale necessary for the future success and competitiveness of the wireline business that Shaw has built over the past five decades.”
Rogers, which is subject to a number of conditions under terms of the ISED approval – most of which were included in its original merger proposal – reaffirmed those commitments in the statement, including a $1 billion to improve connectivity for rural, remote, and Indigenous communities and unserved remote highways in Western Canada; investing $2.5 billion to expand and upgrade Rogers 5G network in the western provinces; and investing $3 billion in technology and network services in the region, including modernizing and expanding fibre-powered internet, among other stipulations.
“Dark day for the Internet in Canada”: Tribe
Laura Tribe, Executive Director of OpenMedia, a non-profit advocating for affordable internet service, called the decision “a dark day for the Internet in Canada.”
“Today’s decision is the largest blow to telecommunications competition and affordability we’ve ever seen,” said Tribe. “Minister Champagne has turned his back on Canadians, and has crowned Rogers the effective ‘king’ of Canada’s internet – the single largest company in our already overly centralized market. It’s hard to reconcile this week’s federal budget filled with promises of affordability measures, with such a direct assault on choice and affordability for Internet connectivity.”
“It’s a massive betrayal that’s only made worse coming from a government that has long-promised improved telecom affordability. Despite press releases claiming otherwise, Minister Champagne’s putting the nail in the coffin of competition in telecommunications in Canada,” she continued.
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also accused the Liberal government of putting the interests of Rogers and Shaw over those of Canadian consumers.
“Right now, Rogers and Shaw CEOs Tony Staffieri and Bradley Shaw are popping the champagne and toasting the Liberal government for the helping hand,” said Singh in a press release. “Justin Trudeau and his team are showing once again that when push comes to shove, they are taking the side of the rich and powerful over the interest of working people.”
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