Big Three No More? Telus Withdraws from Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association to Put ‘Customers First’

Telus has withdrawn from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

The Vancouver-based telecommunication company’s decision to pull out from the industry’s main lobby group is a surprise move; all of Canada’s startup carriers ditched the organization last year explicitly because they felt it favoured the Big Three, of which Telus is decidedly a part of.

“Telus’ decision to withdraw from the CWTA reflects our desire to continue progressing our highly differentiated strategy and our unique Customers First approach,” Josh Blair, Telus’s chief corporate officer, told The Globe and Mail

“CWTA is understandably disappointed with this decision, but respects the position of Telus to undertake a more distinctive advocacy approach outside of CWTA. As a long-serving member of the Association, Telus has contributed strongly over the years to advancing wireless industry growth, innovation and consumer services,” said CWTA spokesman Marc Choma in a statement.

After “careful consideration,” all three of Canada’s startup discount wireless carriers—Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity—announced their withdrawal from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association last April. Public Mobile is now owned by Telus.

The three carriers, born out of a government spectrum auction in 2008 to create a more competitive wireless market, said the massive move is a direct result of their “long-standing, mounting frustration with the CWTA’s consistent bias in favour of Rogers, Bell and Telus on a wide variety of issues.” In an intensely pointed accusation, the telcos argued at the time that “the CWTA does not, and cannot claim to, speak on behalf of the Canadian mobile wireless sector.”

“When we were first approached by the CWTA, we were promised clear and fair representation on issues of true industry alignment,” explained Simon Lockie of Wind, last year. “But despite making our objections and concerns abundantly clear on numerous occasions, the CWTA has repeatedly failed to honour this promise, leaving us no alternative but to withdraw.”

“It has been evident for quite some time that, rather than being a true industry association which represents the views of all players regardless of size, the CWTA has instead largely been an advocate for Rogers, Telus and Bell, and often directly contrary to the interests of new entrant wireless carriers,” added Bob Boron of Public Mobile.

We have spent the better part of three years repeatedly voicing our opposition to the CWTA on a wide range of matters to the point of issuing a press release in January 2011 that publically expressed our dissent on the CWTA’s position on wireless consumer protection,” affirmed Gary Wong of Mobilicity.  “There seems to be a blatant disregard of the new entrants in favour of acting in the best interests of the Big Three carriers and it is unacceptable.”