Rogers, Bell, TELUS, MTS spell telecom network roll out plan

Canadian telecom operators — Rogers Communications, MTS, Bell and TELUS announced their network plans after they paid $4.78 billion in an auction to secure wireless airwave licenses.

Guy Laurence, president and chief executive officer of Rogers Communications

“We believe customers want the ultimate video experience and this spectrum will allow us to deliver just that. Not all 700MHz spectrum in the auction was the same; we secured the beachfront property we wanted. You either want your customers to have the best for the next 20 years or you don’t.”

Pierre Blouin, chief executive officer, MTS

“MTS has invested more in building networks in Manitoba than any other telecommunications provider, and today we have invested in a prime block of 700 MHz spectrum at a relatively inexpensive price compared to what we believe others have paid.  Going forward, MTS will be better positioned and have more flexibility to deliver the next generation of wireless services to Manitobans for years to come, including a large percentage of the rural population.”

MTS plans to use this spectrum in its Manitoba network to add more high-speed data capacity and support advanced wireless services for both existing and new customers.

Wade Oosterman, president of Bell Mobility

“Bell already offers LTE service to 82 percent of the national population, and this new 700 MHz spectrum will help us take the network further: To towns, rural locations and remote communities across the country including Canada’s North.”


Bell’s LTE build out plan will bring advanced mobile broadband services to more than 98 percent of Canada’s population, a national coverage footprint that will rival any in the world. Working in partnership with Northwestel to execute the Modernization Plan for the North, Bell is committed to delivering advanced LTE to Canada’s territories in 2014.

TELUS President and CEO Darren Entwistle

“Today we deliver 4G LTE to 80 per cent of Canada’s population. The addition of this 700 MHz spectrum will enable us to expand our LTE coverage into rural areas, extending TELUS’ national 4G LTE network to 97 per cent of the population well in advance of the auction’s build requirements. Moreover, the spectrum will enable us to further enhance our coverage in urban areas, adding much needed capacity for our more than 7.8 million customers.”

“We have already begun to prepare our wireless cell sites to deploy 700 MHz spectrum, and plan to begin operationalizing the spectrum for the benefit of our customers as soon as it is made available to us later this year.”

These licenses, which were acquired for $1.14 billion, will enable TELUS to deliver enhanced mobile broadband connectivity to its consumer and business customers nationwide, building on its existing national 4G LTE network.

A successful auction in Canada

Market leader Rogers Communications paid C$3.29 billion, or more than 60 percent of the total, to grab prime block in every region of the country except its three remote northern territories.

Quebecor Inc’s Videotron made the biggest splash at the auction, as the regional cable and wireless company expanded its reach outside its home base in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec.

The two other major national players, BCE Inc’s Bell and Telus Corp, also bought large chunks of the 700 megahertz spectrum, which is valued for its ability to carry a signal over long distances and to penetrate buildings, making it useful for both urban and rural areas, Reuters reported.

Winners of the 700 MHz spectrum, vacated by television broadcasters during their transition to digital signals, will help support booming demand for mobile data such as video streaming, though the cost to improve networks could constrain profit margins just as subscriber growth starts to plateau.

Quebecor paid C$233 million for airwaves in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, as well as Quebec. Those four provinces combined are home to much of Canada’s population.

Videotron also beamed about what it was able to achieve – potential coverage of four in five Canadians – for substantially less than its national peers.

A lack of interest from major foreign telecoms and late withdrawals by small domestic operators spurred speculation that bidding would be subdued. Initial estimates were that the government would raise C$1.5 billion to C$2.5 billion.

Telus bid C$1.14 billion, while Bell spent C$565.7 million.

The last major auction of wireless licenses in Canada in 2008 raised C$4.25 billion for the government, which is essentially leasing access to the publicly owned assets.

An auction of 700 MHz frequency in the United States, with 10 times the population, raised almost $20 billion in 2008, while in Australia last year one-third of the airwaves went unsold.

The Australian auction raised almost A$2 billion, but also included spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range, which Canada plans to sell next year.

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