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Bell wants Ottawa to close loopholes in wireless policy

The Bell Canada office is pictured in Ottawa THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis Vachon

Bell Canada has joined Rogers Communications in calling for Ottawa to change its policy on foreign ownership of Canadian wireless communications networks.

The two rivals say they have been put at an unfair disadvantage by a federal policy that allows foreign carriers to buy small Canadian wireless carriers while denying the big domestic carriers the same opportunities.

The CEO of Toronto-based Rogers called on Wednesday for a level playing field.

Bell Canada — the main operation of BCE Inc. — says today that it’s calling on the federal government to immediately close loopholes in its policy.

The Montreal-based company says the policy may have been intended to help small startup companies but the rules have had unintended negative consequences for the large domestic companies.

The complaints come amid reports that U.S.-based Verizon Communications is exploring a move into the Canadian market by purchasing two of the new wireless carriers that launched their services a few years ago

Bell chief executive George Cope says his company is ready to compete with any wireless company if the unfair loopholes are closed.

“We can succeed against U.S. giants in a fair marketplace, because we’ll invest more in Canada. But our federal government is unintentionally underwriting the success of U.S. companies in Canada,” Cope said in a statement.

“We ask that Ottawa allow Canadian wireless companies a fair chance to compete by closing these loopholes.”