Rogers-Shaw is a done deal

Well, it took 746 days, a tribunal, four deadline extensions, and a whole whack of explainers, but the end is finally here for the telecoms saga you’ve kinda, sorta been paying attention to. 

What happened: The federal government approved Rogers’ ~$26 billion takeover of Shaw, and slapped down 21 conditions meant to ensure the deal benefits Canadian consumers.

  • In taking over Shaw’s media and cable assets, Rogers must create at least 3,000 jobs in Western Canada, spend big to expand broadband and wireless networks, and offer new low-cost plans. If it can’t, the company could face fines of up to $1 billion.

Catch-up: Rogers and Shaw originally struck a deal to become one in March 2021, but needed approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (which gave it pretty easily), the Competition Bureau (which fought tooth and nail), and the federal government, which demanded that Shaw offload Freedom Mobile to a competitor.

As part of the feds’ approval, Shaw will sell Freedom to Québec-based carrier Videotron. Videotron also has stipulations to meet, with mandates to offer nationwide plans akin to the ones it has in Québec and to make 5G available to Freedom users within two years. 

Why it matters: Canadians have some of the world’s highest wireless bills, driven by three companies (Rogers, Telus, and Bell) controlling 90% of the market. If the feds’ stipulations on this deal don’t work, consumers may be on the hook for even higher prices.—QH