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Rogers deal complicates Shaw’s place at 5G airwaves auction

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Rogers Communications Inc. would get the means to accelerate the build-out of its 5G wireless network through its acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc. , but if the deal falls through it could leave its Western Canadian target in a precarious position.

The $20.4-billion deal, announced Monday, would give Rogers access to Shaw’s fibre-optic infrastructure – the lightning-fast wires that power broadband internet service – putting it on more equal footing with rivals Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. , who share portions of each other’s networks. But it could also see Shaw sitting out a crucial telecom auction this summer that will provide the building blocks companies need to offer the next generation of wireless technology.

Rogers, accustomed to high debt, secures record bridge loan for Shaw deal

Building out national 5G networks, which will power everything from smart cities to driverless cars, is a massive undertaking that will cost Canadian wireless carriers an estimated $26-billion, according to a 2018 Accenture analysis. A Rogers-Shaw merger would give both companies the scale they need to move quickly in the global technology arms race. However, the deal – which would eliminate Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, the country’s fourth-largest wireless carrier – faces significant regulatory scrutiny from a government that has been focused on increasing competition and reducing wireless prices

Early deployments of 5G have relied on adding equipment onto existing wireless networks. But in order to truly deliver on the promises of 5G – such as increased speeds and reduced lag times – telecoms will need new towers connected to fibre-optic cables, according to telecom consultant Mark Goldberg.

“Even in places that Shaw isn’t operating wireless, they’ve got extremely extensive fibre assets – that includes Manitoba and Saskatchewan, for example,” Mr. Goldberg said. If the deal goes ahead, he added, “It means that Rogers would have deep infrastructure nationally.”

wireline (internet/TV) footprints

Rogers and Shaw have “virtually no overlap”

in their cable footprints, according to Rogers CEO

Joe Natale. The companies’ founders, Ted Rogers

and JR Shaw, struck a gentlemen’s agreement in

1994, when divvying up Maclean-Hunter’s cable

assets, that they wouldn’t compete in each

other’s territories.

Regional telecom operators

Homes passed*

In millions

National telecom operators

Homes passed*

In millions

*When there is more than one unit in a single dwelling, such as an

apartment building, each unit that is a cable subscriber, or has the

ability to access cable services, is counted as an individual home passed.

alexandra posadZki and JOHN SOPINSKI

THE GLOBE AND MAIl, SOURCE: rbc capital markets

wireline (internet/TV) footprints

Rogers and Shaw have “virtually no overlap” in their cable

footprints, according to Rogers CEO Joe Natale. The

companies’ founders, Ted Rogers and JR Shaw, struck

a gentlemen’s agreement in 1994, when divvying up

Maclean-Hunter’s cable assets, that they wouldn’t

compete in each other’s territories.

Regional telecom operators

Homes passed*

In millions

National telecom operators

Homes passed*

In millions

*When there is more than one unit in a single dwelling, such as an

apartment building, each unit that is a cable subscriber, or has the

ability to access cable services, is counted as an individual home passed.

alexandra posadZki and JOHN SOPINSKI

THE GLOBE AND MAIl, SOURCE: rbc capital markets

wireline (internet/TV) footprints

Rogers and Shaw have “virtually no overlap” in their cable footprints, according to Rogers

CEO Joe Natale. The companies’ founders, Ted Rogers and JR Shaw, struck a gentlemen’s

agreement in 1994, when divvying up Maclean-Hunter’s cable assets, that they wouldn’t

compete in each other’s territories.

Regional telecom operators

Homes passed*

In millions

National telecom operators

Homes passed*

In millions

*When there is more than one unit in a single dwelling, such as an apartment building,

each unit that is a cable subscriber, or has the ability to access cable services,

is counted as an individual home passed.

alexandra posadZki and JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIl

SOURCE: rbc capital markets

The takeover, which requires shareholder and regulatory approvals, would see Rogers pay $40.50 a share for Shaw, a 70-per-cent premium to where the Calgary-based telecom’s stock recently traded.

The announcement comes three weeks ahead of the April 6 deadline for telecoms to pay their deposits if they wish to participate in the June auction for airwaves critical for 5G. Experts say the deal raises questions about Shaw’s ability to bid on licenses for the 3,500-megahertz spectrum – airwaves used to transmit wireless signals.

“Based on a reading of the auction rules, there is a non-negligible possibility that the announced merger may jeopardize Shaw’s participation as a stand-alone entity in the upcoming spectrum auction,” Johanne Lemay, co-president of telecom consultancy Lemay-Yates Associates Inc., said in an e-mail.

The 3,500-MHz band is a key one for the delivery of fifth-generation wireless services because it can carry large volumes of data over long distances.

“Sitting out this auction could make or break a company,” said Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary. “If Shaw were out of this auction and then somehow the deal does not go through, Shaw is in big trouble.”

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According to the rules set out by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – the federal ministry responsible for regulating spectrum – companies that are in an agreement to merge are considered associated entities. They can participate separately in the auction only “if they can demonstrate that they intend to separately and actively provide services,” John Power, a spokesperson for the department, said in an e-mail.

“Innovation, Science and Economic Development will apply these rules when it reviews all applications to participate in the auction following the April 6, 2021, application deadline, and make its assessment of eligibility on the facts of each specific application,” Mr. Power said.

Shaw and Rogers declined to comment on the upcoming auction.

The decision is going to be a tricky one for the government to make, Prof. Taylor said.

“I suspect they’re going to have to come up with creative solutions here,” he said. “It could be that Shaw gets to bid on set-aside spectrum and then if the deal [with Rogers] goes through they have to return it. … We’re into uncharted waters.” (Set-aside spectrum refers to a block of airwaves that is earmarked specifically for newer wireless carriers, such as Freedom Mobile, to encourage competition.)

Analysts are expecting strong demand for the 3,500 MHz spectrum. A report published by TD Securities analyst Vince Valentini earlier this year predicts that BCE, Rogers and Telus will spend roughly $2.8-billion combined on the airwaves. South of the border, an auction for similar airwaves netted US$80.9-billion.

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Carriers will need a mix of different frequencies to deliver 5G services. Higher frequencies provide faster speeds, while lower frequencies are better at travelling long distances. The airwaves in the 3,500 MHz range, known as mid-band spectrum, are considered ideal because they provide a mix of both.

If Shaw isn’t able to participate in the auction, that could create opportunities for smaller players to bid on those blocks of spectrum, Prof. Taylor said.

“It would mean that those looking for the set-aside [spectrum] will probably get a much better deal,” he said. “Of all the groups that qualify for set-aside spectrum, Shaw has some of the deeper pockets.”

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is currently mulling whether to force the national carriers to open up their wireless networks to resellers. The decision, which is expected in the coming weeks or months, could determine whether companies such as Cogeco Communications Inc. enter the wireless business.

If the deal between Rogers and Shaw goes through, Shaw will likely have to return airwaves in the 600 MHz range that it bought in a 2019 auction. Those airwaves were also set aside for smaller competitors and are not allowed to be transferred to one of the three big telecoms for five years.

The Rogers-Shaw merger is subject to approval by the Competition Bureau; Innovation, Science and Economic Development; and the CRTC.

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Source:- The Globe and Mail

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As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca

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Read Story Transcript

As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.

“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.

“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, effective in younger kids, expert says

3 days ago

Although he cautions Pfizer-BioNTech has yet to release the raw data supporting the claim that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in kids aged 5-11, it’s ‘reasonable’ to assume that’s accurate, says Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology. 2:35

For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.

In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.

In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.

“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.

She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”

In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.

“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said. 

But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.” 

Dr. Cora Constantinescu said that as parents approach the decision, they should consider the negative impacts of COVID-19 on children. (Submitted by Dr. Cora Constantinescu)

How should parents approach vaccine question?

Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”

“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.

As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.

“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.

There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.

How a doctor discusses vaccine hesitancy with patients

10 months ago

Dr. Cora Constantinescu, an infectious disease specialist from the Vaccine Hesitancy Clinic in Calgary, discusses how she approaches conversations around vaccine hesitancy, the impact of those conversations and what’s needed in messaging around the COVID-19 vaccine. 3:44

The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.

If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”

“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.

‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids

Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.

“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Kashif Pirzada said that when a vaccine is approved for younger children, ‘we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.’ (Dr. Kashif Pirzada)

He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.

In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.

“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”


Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.

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Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS

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(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.

On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022. 

“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.

When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.

Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.

Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.

“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”

The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.

“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”

When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”

Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.

On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”

He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.

In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

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China asks local governments to prep for Evergrande downfall: Report – CNBC Television

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