Quebecor Rumoured To Be Selling Unused Wireless Spectrum

by Istvan Fekete on January 24, 2013

Hot on the heels of the Rogers–Shaw wireless spectrum deal that resulted in an consumer group uproar, Quebecor Inc. will likely be the next to sell some of its unused wireless spectrum, according to an analyst report.

After Rogers announced that it will pay $50 million for Shaw’s undeployed AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) wireless licenses as part of a $700 million deal in September 2014, consumer groups and even a rival — namely WIND Mobile — are seeking to block the deal.

In the light of the Rogers–Shaw deal, Scotia Capital analyst Jeff Fan believes that Quebecor’s Vidéotron Ltée division is likely to make the same move with some of its own AWS spectrum licenses.

As he points out, the company has spent $554.5 million on its AWS spectrum as it participated in the last auction initiated by the federal government back in 2008 alongside Wind, Shaw and the big trio, Rogers, Bell and Telus. The majority of the purchased spectrum covers the province of Quebec, but Quebecor has also spent $96.4 million on a small block of spectrum covering the Toronto area.

Last year, however, Quebecor CFO Jean Francois Pruneau announced that his company had dumped plans to build a mobile network in Toronto using its available 10 MHz of spectrum.

An interesting note also comes from the same person: He said the company is prohibited from selling its AWS spectrum to any of the big trio until 2014, but suggested that he had already been contacted regarding a future sale.

“The value of the spectrum has certainly not been impaired over time. And in fact, I think it has increased since we acquired it,” Mr. Pruneau said at an investor conference at the time.

Rogers came to the attention of the press due to its Shaw deal, and when asked about future deals, CEO Nadir Mohamed declined to comment on the company’s plans for future deals.

You may recall that WIND has just become the first foreign-owned wireless carrier in Canada, but its Egyptian parent company’s CEO has been highly unsatisfied with the operator’s performance since it entered the market, suggesting a possible sale. Another rumour claims that VimpelCom WIND Mobile’s Amsterdam-based backer company was approached by Rogers regarding an eventual purchase of the spectrum.

While both companies declined to comment when contacted, it seems like the Canadian mobile market will soon run out of players to compete with the Big 3 if the aforementioned deals go through by late 2014.

Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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