Mobilicity prepared to take legal action over Chatr

Stefania Moretti, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

TORONTO — Wireless newcomer Mobilicity is prepared to take legal action against Rogers Communications Inc. for unfair competition over its recently introduced brand Chatr, Mobilicity chair John Bitove said Friday.

“If Rogers launches Chatr in the manner that’s been speculated, it’s clear that the Competition Act will be violated,” Bitove told reporters from his Toronto office.

“We’ll be sure to pursue any and all claims against Rogers to the fullest extent possible.”

First announced on June 30, Chatr has been labeled “a fighter brand” designed to keep existing Rogers customers from moving to the competition with contract-free, unlimited, low-cost cellphone plans. A spokesperson at Rogers wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“It’s not coincidental that within weeks that we launched they finally try bringing those kinds of offerings to consumers when they had the chance to do it for years,” he said.

“There’s no question that if they ever succeeded in killing us off they’d remove the Chatr brand or re-price the Chatr brand. And that’s the issue you have with fighter brands,” Bitove said, pointing to Rogers’ purchase of the brand now known as Fido years earlier as an example.

Since December, Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity have all launched wireless services to take on Rogers, Bell and Telus in select urban centres.

Rogers is subsidizing the Chatr brand simply to kill the “little guys,” said Bitove — who also sits atop the Priszm franchisee operating KFC and Taco Bell among other restaurants.

This is not what the government envisioned when it opened up the market to increased competition by selling new spectrum, he added.

Bitove said the incumbents have also used their clout with manufacturers to throw up roadblocks for the competition when it comes to securing handsets.

“What they are really being is a $20-billion bully to try and destroy the competition as quickly as they can,” he said.

Bitove said he expected the incumbents to protect their turf when he entered Canada’s cutthroat wireless market.

“I didn’t expect to be dealt an underhanded card by someone who is much bigger” he said. “I didn’t expect unfair competition."

The situation is not unlike the one Ted Rogers faced years ago when he took on Bell on telephony, he added.


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