Canadian incumbent operator Rogers and startup Mobilicity are reportedly at loggerheads over the former’s launch of a new low-end service targeting budget-conscious users. According to The Globe and Mail, the chairman of Mobilicity, John Bitove, called reporters to his office Friday to announce he is threatening to report Rogers to the Competition Bureau, or take legal action directly after Rogers launched its new chatr service, aimed squarely at Mobilicity’s own targeted demographic. In a press release from June 30, Rogers claimed that chatr “is the first in the category to offer unlimited talk and text to customers with the reach and reliability of a proven network.” Bitove sees the chatr brand as an “abuse of power” that contravenes a section of the Competition Act dealing with temporary or targeted ‘fighting’ brands. He said Rogers is trying to “destroy” his company. In response, John Boynton, Rogers’ executive VP and chief of marketing, said Mr Bitove’s reaction was a surprise. “What all those [new operators] said, was that all this competition would be good for the consumer,” he noted. The Mobilicity response “seems to be all about this company and not about consumers.”
Canada’s newest mobile operator Mobilicity launched in Toronto in May, offering six unlimited, no-contract plans. Previously known as DAVE Wireless, Mobilicity’s HSPA network has been built by Ericsson and falls back onto a network roaming agreement with Rogers when out of coverage (as well as a US roaming agreement with T-Mobile USA). DAVE Wireless was one of several new mobile start-ups that acquired so-called Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum in Canada in an auction in 2008. The operator paid CAD243 million for licenses in 10 of the country’s 13 largest markets and said it will rollout services in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa later this year. Mobilicity, along with Shaw, Wind, Videotron and Public Mobile are all hoping to compete with incumbent operators Bell, Rogers and Telus.