Incumbents and newcomers size up wireless partnerships

11 Sep 2008

Pierre Karl Peladeau, president of Quebec-based cableco Videotron, has revealed a budget of up to approximately USD1 billion to roll out a wireless network in the province and parts of Ontario over the next four years, double the amount previously mooted, reports The Globe & Mail. Peladeau also announced that he wants to begin negotiations with other mobile start-ups about national network roaming deals, saying that his company is ‘well positioned to consider any type of partnership.’ Videotron, owned by Quebecor, effectively shut out other contenders for Quebec wireless spectrum by buying a 40MHz block of 2GHz band frequencies in Canada’s recent nationwide auction, leaving ambitious newcomer Globalive with a hole in its national coverage plan. Globalive, backed by Egyptian and Icelandic telecoms investors, acquired licences in all provinces outside Quebec, and has said it will focus on selling simple, pre-paid voice services. Last week, chief executive officer Anthony Lacavera said he was willing to partner with ‘anyone’, including Videotron and another wireless start-up Data & Audio-Visual Enterprises Wireless. It is probable that Globalive will partner Videotron in Quebec to provide nationwide coverage. Two other strong regional wireless players are likely to emerge after cablecos Shaw Communications in Western Canada and Eastlink in Atlantic Canada won significant frequency rights in their respective regions.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that nationwide CDMA2000-based mobile incumbents Bell Canada (Bell Mobility) and Telus Communications (Telus Mobility) are in the advanced stages of investigating the pros and cons of a proposed partnership to share costs in rolling out GSM/W-CDMA/HSPA infrastructure nationwide, with the aim of taking on main rival Rogers Communications (including the Fido brand), the country’s only GSM/W-CDMA/HSPA network operator. Both CDMA operators won new spectrum in markets across the country in the recent auction; a decision on the proposed alliance is expected by the end of this year.