Academics, business groups testify Rogers shouldn’t be allowed to buy Freedom Mobile

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TORONTO — Telecom industry experts told an all-party committee of MPs today that Rogers Communications Inc. should not be allowed to buy Canada’s fourth-largest wireless service, Freedom Mobile.

Rogers plans to purchase Shaw Communications, including its Freedom Mobile banner, under a $26-billion deal announced last month that the committee is reviewing.

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist began today’s testimony by calling for Rogers to fully divest the wireless assets of Shaw Communications Inc. if the agreement is allowed by regulators.

Geist says Rogers is promising a “grab-bag of goodies” to make the deal more palatable but the better alternative would be to require Rogers and the other big domestic network owners to open the networks up for use by other competitors.

Geist made the remarks to MPs during the third day of hearings. Rogers executives previously told the committee it needs to grow bigger through the Shaw purchase if it hopes to compete with Bell Canada and Telus Corp.

The deal announced March 15 needs regulatory approval to go forward. Key officials, including the federal competition commissioner, are scheduled to address the committee on Wednesday.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B, TSX:QBR.B, TSX:BCE, TSX:T)