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TMCNet:  Telus pulls out of telecom industry lobby group in surprise move

[February 28, 2014]

Telus pulls out of telecom industry lobby group in surprise move

(Canadian Press DataFile Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By LuAnn LaSalle Major wireless carrier Telus, in a surprise move, has pulled out of the lobby group that represents the telecommunications industry, saying it can do a better job on behalf of customers on its own.


Chief corporate officer Josh Blair said Friday that Telus (TSX:T) isn't at loggerheads with Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, but there are many times when "we have a unique view on what's right for our customers." "We feel that taking our own position on the customer service front, customers-first front, is the right thing for us to do," Blair said.

The CWTA has already been hit by exits from new carriers Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile, now owned by Telus, which left in 2013. Telus and the small carriers say the association doesn't always represent their positions on customer service.

Blair said Vancouver-based Telus has the best customer retention in the industry and has lowered its yearly customer complaints and doesn't want to follow broad positions that are taken by the industry group aimed at suiting all of its members.

But Telus said it will continue to co-operate with the Ottawa-based group on projects such as cellphone recycling, stolen handset registry and wireless Amber alerts.

Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Bell (TSX:BCE) as well as a host of other Canadian telecom companies are among the roughly 110 members who remain in the industry group.

Bell spokesman Mark Langton said the big carrier has no intention of leaving association, noting Bell is a long-time member which has been active in developing projects such as the stolen phone registry, Amber Alert program and the Mobile Giving Foundation.

A Rogers spokesman couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

The financial impact of Telus leaving isn't yet clear, said CWTA spokesman Marc Choma. Telus wouldn't say how much it pays in yearly fees to the association, headed by former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord.

But Choma said the industry group would be pleased to welcome back Telus in the future.

"CWTA is understandably disappointed with this decision but respects the position of Telus to undertake a more distinctive advocacy approach outside of CWTA," he said.

But he added that Lord has been effective in managing a wide diversity of views within the organization.

The CWTA annoyed some consumer groups last year when it opposed getting rid of three-year contracts and wanted to give consumers the choice of either a three- or a two-year commitment to buy a mobile phone.

Telus was the first of the big three carriers to implement two-year contracts last summer in advance of the wireless code, which has national standards for the content and clarity of cellphone contracts that were set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

(c) 2014 The Canadian Press

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