Technology Science - Court upholds Wind Mobile's right to exist

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Globalive and the federal government have won their appeal of a Federal Court ruling that disputed the company's right to launch the Wind discount mobile phone brand.

The ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal on Wednesday means the upstart wireless provider can continue to offer a nationwide cellular network.

Anthony Lacavera said he was 'thrilled' with the appeal court's decision.Anthony Lacavera said he was 'thrilled' with the appeal court's decision. Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

Globalive's competitors accused Ottawa of ignoring Canadian competition laws in letting Globalive launch its Wind mobile phone brand in late 2009. Globalive is financially backed by Egyptian telecom giant Orascom.

A cabinet order-in-council reversed the original CRTC finding that Globalive's ownership structure didn't adhere to Canadian telecom laws.

A previous court decision found in favour of Globalive's rival Public Mobile, which argued the company shouldn't have been allowed to operate because it is effectively foreign-owned. That ruling allowed the company to keep operating pending appeal, a process Globalive formally launched in February.

"The appeal is allowed and the order-in-council will be restored," the Federal Court of Appeal ruling read.

Calling the decision a "complete vindication," Globalive said in a statement that the decision ends two years of regulatory and legal battles.

"We and our 300,000 customers are thrilled with this decision,” Globalive chairman Anthony Lacavera said. “Now we can continue … without the distraction and expense of challenges by our competitors to our right to operate."

Ottawa has indicated that it plans to allow greater foreign ownership in the telecom sector, but so far has not made changes.

On Wednesday, the government, which had supported Wind Mobile in its bid to overturn the lower court decision, said it was committed to encouraging choice and competition in the wireless and Internet business.

"We have always believed that Globalive is a Canadian company which meets the Canadian ownership and control requirements under the Telecommunications Act," Industry Minister Christian Paradis said in a statement.

Last May, the government outlined three possible options to loosen the requirements â€Â" removing all restrictions, increasing the limit of foreign investment from the current 20 to 49 per cent or lifting restrictions for carriers with less than 10 per cent market share.

But it has yet to take action on any of those proposals.

With files from The Canadian Press

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