The Battle for Quebec

by Jordan Richardson on August 30, 2010

Pierre Karl Péladeau may currently preside over North America’s largest French-language broadcasting company and he may run the dominant Vidéotron Ltée, a Quebec powerhouse in cable and broadband internet services, but he’s not satisfied yet. For Péladeau, another piece of the pie and another critical battle ground remains: wireless.

Vidéotron Ltée is gearing up to charge into battle in Quebec for the province’s cell phone market. His major Canadian company will fire up its own wireless network in September, becoming the first major cable company in the country to follow-up Rogers’ foray into the market 25 years ago.

Dipping into the market, at least for Vidéotron Ltée, becomes less about “why” and more about “why not.” There’s a lot of potential revenue, for one thing, and the days of telecom companies offering “one thing” are far behind. For Vidéotron Ltée, the table is set to take on Bell Canada and any other comers in the wireless wars.

A big part of the reason we’re seeing more of these sorts of skirmishes is because of what I’ve been pointing out for a while now: there are few differences between what the major companies can offer. Bundles are everywhere, as consumers can sign up with Rogers or Telus and essentially receive all of the services they could ever need in one place. Bundle deals make this notion all the more attractive for consumers.

For Vidéotron Ltée, then, the notion of offering a wireless network is more than just another notch on the bedpost. It’s a cultural issue too, or at least that’s what the marketing department has decided. See, Bell Canada, Vidéotron Ltée’s chief competition in Quebec, is pegged as an “outsider.” Vidéotron Ltée, meanwhile, is the French-language original and the hometown boy. The distinction is more than just price, it’s nearly moral.

The confident strut of Vidéotron Ltée comes largely from their ability to play the cultural card and from their assurance in offering bundles that can really compete with Bell and other providers for the hearts and minds of Quebecers.

At the same time, it wasn’t long ago that we heard that the company wasn’t going to charge into a pricing war with Bell. It seems the tune has changed, at least somewhat, as the companies prepare to jockey for market position. Péladeau, the reputation goes, is in it to win it. He, like the Tom Petty song says, “won’t back down.”

So, it’s once more unto the breach, dear friends. The Quebec battle is heating up and the war for the hearts and minds of Quebec customers could be a long and bloody one. Bundles and price cuts will be flying fast and furious, creating the sense that the consumers really could be the winners in all of this. And when the dust settles, who will remain victorious? At this point, that’s anybody’s guess.

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Bell Levels Playing Field with CTV Purchase —
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