When you started looking at Canada’s telecom market, what did you think of the domestic players?
It was a joke. First of all, the penetration rate was stuck. Penetration rates in all European countries and the U.S. are at 100%, 120%. And it was at 60% here when we started. Fact number two, the ARPU—the average revenue per user—is, with all three players, the same. It was very clear that there was an opportunity there. Of course, we didn’t estimate the difficulties—the obstacles, rather—that were put in our way: all the CRTC processes and delays. It was something we did not expect to see in a modern country that is part of the WTO and is supposed to be encouraging investment. It was a big shock. And it has cost us dearly. If it was not for the Minister of Industry, who did the right thing in the end, we would have been in deep ****.
Do you see a day when Orascom and other global telecom players have more of a presence in Canada?
I think we will get credit for that—that we had the balls and the guts to endure all these agonies. And some of them remain. We are being confronted now with unfair competitive measures. Roaming is a seamless process in all the world. This is the only country in the world where if you roam on an incumbent, your phone gets cut off when you go from one area to the other. Everything we require them to do, they don’t do. They delay. And if we are, as the strongest new entrant, incurring all these obstacles, what about the smaller ones? Mobility. And what’s that other one? They will die. I call them dead-on-arrivals. So these measures are torpedoing competition. And the trick they have now is, one of the incumbents—without naming names—uses another brand to offer the same service with two prices for its consumers. It’s the same people, and they’re only offering this low price in the areas where we operate—depriving all these other customers of the same price.