The Good, the Bandwidth and the Ugly: BCE buys phone retailer, passes 1m FibreOP premises, hit with civil suit

1 Dec 2014

Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) has agreed a CAD594 million (USD520 million) cash-and-stock deal to buy independent cellphone retailer Glentel, the Globe & Mail reports. The deal will give Bell ownership of Glentel’s roughly 500 own-brand retail locations in Canada, as well as kiosks at Target Canada and Costco under the names ‘Wirelesswave’, ‘Tbooth wireless’ and ‘Wireless etc’. BCE previously bought another phone retail chain, The Source, with around 750 locations, in 2009. The Source now exclusively sells BCE-owned wireless products, but the Glentel outlets will continue to distribute rivals’ products, at least for the time being.

In other news, BCE’s Atlantic Canada-based division Bell Aliant has announced reaching its end-year target of making its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) ‘FibreOP’ broadband services available to one million homes and businesses, with the milestone deployment of the millionth premise passed achieved in Oromocto, New Brunswick, it said in a press release. Bell Aliant simultaneously announced a free FibreOP internet speed upgrade – the third in the last two years. On 7 December 2014 the 50Mbps/30Mbps (down/upload) package is raised to 75Mbps/30Mbps and the 80Mbps/30Mbps package jumps to 150Mbps/30Mbps, while the top speeds available are boosted significantly from 250Mbps/30Mbps to 400Mbps/350Mbps. In addition, in a recently announced partnership with its sister Bell Media division, Bell Aliant will also offer a new subscription on-demand video streaming service, code named ‘Project Latte’ focusing on premium TV content.

Elsewhere, CBC News reports that an Ontario court has certified class action lawsuits against Bell and rival Telus over the practice of rounding up calls to the farthest minute whilst not immediately disclosing the method to certain customers. The class actions were certified on behalf of Canadian residents who subscribed to Bell services and were billed by the minute between August 2006 and October 2009, and Ontario residents who subscribed to Telus services and were billed per-minute between August 2006 and July 2010.