Quebecor acquired additional 5G spectrum in Manitoba and Quebec
Canadian operator Quebecor and its subsidiary Videotron have invested nearly CAD10 million ($7.5 million) to acquire new 5G wireless spectrum licenses, in Manitoba in the 600 MHz band and in Quebec in the 3,500 MHz band, Quebecor said in a release.
The acquisition was made in the auction of residual spectrum licenses that concluded on January 25 with the announcement by the Canadian government of the tentatively accepted bids. Videotron is increasing its wireless service capacity and continuing to pave the way for the potential expansion of its wireless infrastructure outside Québec. In 2021, Videotron acquired 294 blocks of 3.5 GHz spectrum in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec at a cost of CAD830 million.
“We have a clear objective: to bring healthy competition to the Canadian wireless market by breaking the oligopoly,” said Pierre Karl Péladeau, president and CEO of Quebecor. “Buying additional spectrum to follow up on the potential acquisition of Freedom Mobile is a key element of our business plan for extending our robust, powerful wireless network outside Quebec and offering Canadian consumers better services at better prices, as we have been doing in Quebec for more than 15 years.”
In August 2022, Canadian operators Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications and Quebecor had entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of Freedom Mobile to Videotron.
The parties said that the transaction was subject to regulatory approvals and closing of the proposed merger between Shaw and Rogers, which had been initially announced on March 15, 2021.
The involved parties also said that the sale of Freedom Mobile would pave the way for the establishment of a “strong fourth national wireless services provider”, something that would address the concerns raised by the Commissioner of Competition and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry regarding the Rogers-Shaw merger.
The new combined business of Videotron and Freedom Mobile will be in a position to launch a national 5G offering, using Videotron’s 3.5 GHz frequencies.
Earlier this week, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal rejected the competition bureau’s request to block the merger of Canadian carriers Rogers and Shaw, a decision that removed one of the final hurdles for the completion of the $20-billion merger.
The Rogers-Shaw transaction has already been approved by the shareholders of Shaw and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, but remains subject to review by the Competition Tribunal and Competition Bureau and approval by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, must approve spectrum license transfers from Shaw to Videotron – in connection with the proposed acquisition of Freedom Mobile by Videotron – before the combination of Rogers and Shaw can proceed.
The federal government’s decision whether or not to approve the merger will focus on making sure the process will provide more competition and affordability for Canadians, Champagne has said.