Quebec-based cable and mobile network operator Videotron – which spent CAD830.0 million (USD665 million) in Canada’s 3.5GHz 5G spectrum auction – stated in a press release that: ‘The strategic investment positions Quebec’s flagship carrier to realise its ambition of boosting healthy competition in telecom beyond the borders of Quebec.’ Videotron, currently operating a mobile network covering Quebec plus the Ottawa area, acquired 299 1×10MHz blocks of 3.5GHz spectrum covering 30.0 million population in 108 regions in Quebec, southern/eastern Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.
Highlighting that it now holds 175 3.5GHz frequency blocks in provinces outside Quebec (with bandwidth averaging about 1×30MHz in each of these regions, compared to around 1×40MHz in Quebec), Videotron stated that it ‘plans to roll out its mobile telephone service in some urban and rural areas in the rest of Canada’. CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau declared: ‘This major investment paves the way for large-scale projects in Quebec and other Canadian provinces in the coming years. Our success in Quebec has served Quebecers well. Today, we are taking another step towards bringing leading-edge technology and healthy competition to more Canadian consumers.’
Furthermore, Videotron underlined that its parent Quebecor has confirmed its interest in acquiring Shaw Communications’ wireless assets, should they be sold as part of anticipated antimonopoly conditions attached to the proposed merger of Shaw into Rogers Communications. Videotron’s statement said: ‘We are now counting on the government to create a favourable environment to foster and maintain healthy competition. We are confident that we are the right player, the one with a real ability to break the oligopoly and put consumers across Canada back in the driver’s seat.’
Videotron is also looking at the possibility of utilising the measures introduced in April by the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regarding MVNO access to the networks of Rogers, Bell, Telus and SaskTel for regional players possessing their own spectrum. The CRTC has mandated conditional MVNO access for a period of seven years, with wholesale rates to be negotiated between providers (with final offer arbitration by the CRTC as a last resort), while the terms and conditions will be established by the CRTC. Videotron added: ‘If conditions are favourable, Quebecor plans to exercise the rights arising from recent CRTC decisions to offer millions of Canadians competitive services.’