Rogers is still going for Shaw

The Competition Tribunal (a court-like body that rules on competition laws) will hear the final arguments around a certain telecoms merger that’s been taking up all the headlines lately. 

Catch-up: Last year, Rogers set its sights on becoming the country's second-largest wireless and cable operator through a proposed $26 billion merger with Shaw. The federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and the Competition Bureau would need to grant their approval for the deal to go through. 

  • The CRTC was generally okay with the deal with some light changes and the feds said they could approve it only if Shaw offloaded its wireless licenses (Freedom Mobile).
  • Shaw has since agreed to sell Freedom to Quebecor, but the Bureau maintains that the merger would raise phone bills and impact mobile service for Canadians. 

Both sides are expected to double down on their existing arguments today. The Bureau has said the proposed deal is already reducing competition in Canada’s wireless market while Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor say it would increase competition in Western Canada specifically (where Telus dominates) and through boosting Quebecor’s national presence.

Why it matters: Canadians have some of the world’s highest wireless bills, driven by three companies (Rogers, Telus, and Bell) controlling 90% of the market. The Tribunal’s decision will aim to maintain enough competition in the market to protect Canadian consumers.

What’s next: The Tribunal will decide whether the deal is competitive enough to close by the end of the year. It could also block the merger entirely, block parts of it (by requiring changes), or require Shaw to offload more assets. Since both sides can appeal any decision, the case could make its way to the Federal Court of Appeal by early next year.