Friday, June 11, 2010

Canada to ease foreign ownership restrictions on telecoms

OTTAWA — The Canadian government proposed on Friday three plans for easing restrictions on foreign ownership of local telecommunications firms, including lifting all checks.

The current limit of direct foreign investment in broadcasting and telecommunications carriers is 46.7 percent.

Industry Minister Tony Clement issued a feeler to increase the limit to 49 percent; lift restrictions only on small carriers with only 10 percent market share or less; or remove restrictions completely.

In a statement, he invited the public to offer their input by July 30.

"Our goal is to encourage investment, innovation and competition in the telecommunications sector for the benefit of both businesses and consumers," said Clement.

"We look forward to receiving Canadians? views on this important issue."

According to a government consultation paper, only three countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) restrict foreign investment in their telecommunications sectors: Canada, Mexico and South Korea.

Among them, Canada's rules are the strictest.

Three carriers -- Bell, Rogers and Telus -- currently dominate the Canadian telecommunications sector, which is worth 40 billion dollars annually.

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