MTS Has No Plans to Bid on Canada-Wide Airwaves

by Istvan Fekete on September 12, 2013

Some of the regional wireless players aren’t prepared to become the fourth national carrier Ottawa has been after lately. One of them is Manitoba Telecom Services Inc., which has no plans to place a bid on the Canada-wide airwaves, the company’s CEO said to the Globe and Mail on Tuesday.

The announcement comes after the sale of its country-wide Allstream fiber optic network that took place in May. With this sale, MTS has essentially cut short any ambition to build a national wireless company to complement its landline and Internet offering in Manitoba.

The sale, however, will strengthen its position in the province and will allow investors to judge the company as a purely regional telecom company. A couple of years ago, back in 2008, MTS bid for national airwaves backed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and private equity company Blackstone. It finally pulled out after the prices went up.

“It would have to be a heck of a great deal to make it attractive to MTS now, so it is not currently the plan,” CEO Pierre Blouin said at an investor conference that was webcast to media, referring to a plan to bid broadly in the auction.

The forthcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction is anticipated among the wireless players (well, for some), as the band is highly valued for its ability to penetrate buildings and travel long distances. The auction is expected to raise billions for Ottawa.

According to the Licensing Framework for Mobile Broadband Services (MBS), in the 700 MHz band published by the government, the deadline for accepting applications to participate in the auction peppered with 5% of the pre-auction final deposits is 12:00 noon next Tuesday, September 17.

A couple days after receiving application, the government will release the final list of applicants alongside beneficial ownership and associated entities information, on September 23, 2013. A month later, on October 22, 2013, we will see the list of provisionally qualified bidders, who will have a week to submit the remaining 95% of their pre-auction financial deposits, by October 29, 2013.

There will also be three sessions of mock auctions for qualified bidders (announced on November 8, 2013) with the auction starting on January 14, 2014. The provisional license winners will be announced within five business days of bidding finishing.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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