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Union joins telcos in criticism of Ottawa’s wireless policy

Three Android phones are seen on display during the Verizon Wireless media event in New York on July 23, 2013.

SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Canada's labour movement is joining the chorus of criticism against the federal government's wireless policy.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada said Monday it "stridently opposes" the advantages that Ottawa is offering potential new entrants to the $19-billion wireless market. In doing so, it is aligning itself with the major telcos where its members work.

New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. is mulling an entry via potential purchases of Wind Mobile and Mobilicity – two carriers that are off-limits to the Big Three incumbents.

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Verizon may also bid in an upcoming auction of wireless spectrum as a "new entrant carrier," allowing it to buy more licences than incumbents.

"Granting one of the biggest companies in the world special rights to public airwaves [spectrum], to buy small players and to existing companies' networks may be the most ill conceived policy the Harper government has come up with," says CEP president Dave Coles in a release.

"In its ideological crusade to open the telecommunications sector up to foreign ownership the Conservatives are 'gaming the rules' in favour of a major U.S.-based multinational," says Coles.

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