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Today marks a “dark day” for Canadians as the approval of a major telecommunications merger between Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications was met with widespread condemnation.
The two companies announced the $4.4 billion merger earlier this month, which will see them combine their wireless, internet, cable, and media businesses. The federal government gave its approval for the deal on Wednesday, citing the companies' commitment to invest in 5G technology and Canada's digital infrastructure.
However, consumer and advocacy groups have been vocal in their opposition to the takeover, calling it a “troubling” consolidation of power in the telecom industry. They argue that it will lead to higher prices and fewer choices for Canadians.
“This is a dark day for Canadian consumers,” said John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “The government's approval of this merger will only exacerbate the dominance of the big three telecommunications companies in Canada, resulting in fewer choices for consumers and potentially higher prices.”
Other groups have suggested that the merger will make it more difficult for smaller companies to compete in the telecom market, as the combined company will have an even greater control over the industry.
“The approval of this merger will further concentrate the wireless market in Canada, allowing the country's largest wireless carriers to dominate the market and stifle competition,” said Bob Orr, executive director of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
The federal government has defended its decision to approve the merger, saying that it will create jobs and provide a much-needed boost to the Canadian economy.
“This merger will bring tremendous benefits to Canadians, including increased investment in 5G technology, improved coverage and access to services, and better quality of service,” said Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains.
Despite the federal government's approval, the merger still needs to be approved by the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission before it can be finalized.