After Years of Uncertainty, Wind Mobile Starts Expanding its Network Again

by Istvan Fekete on September 29, 2014

The biggest of all Canadian wireless startups, Wind Mobile, is apparently on the right track: the years of uncertainty are over, as its previous majority shareholder, the Russian VimpelCom, has sold its stake in the carrier. Anthony Lacavera, Wind’s CEO and co-founder, bought VimpelCom’s stake for $135 million and assumed $150 million in debt.

Lacavera was silent on the company’s future plans when announcing the sale, but he broke the silence last Friday when he uncovered Wind’s next steps for the near future while speaking to BCBusiness.

As it turns out, Lacavera is ready to step out and challenge the big three in other areas by expanding its coverage. But that’s just one of the long list of to-dos the Wind Mobile CEO has on its agenda.

First, there is a need to strengthen the network – not necessarily downtown Vancouver – and build towers southward to Surrey, Lacavera tells the BCBusiness. Wind will focus on this area in the coming months.

That won’t be limited to Vancouver, though; Edmonton and Calgary will be in the works, as there are some spots they need to fill in due to the lack of network investments in the last couple of years.

Here are Wind’s plans for British Columbia, as detailed by Lacavera: “We’ve done all the site surveys in Abbotsford, but we need coverage to be much better to include them in the network. I just saw a plan for Kelowna in the office, which is a whole other market basically. It’s a market like London, Ont.—isolated, an hour drive to anything significant. Smaller than London, but geographically much bigger, so it’s a challenge because that’s the whole equation in our business. If you can put up one tower, it’s about an eight-kilometre radius around it. If you have a thousand people, that’s better than 10 people. And so the economics start to fall off. That said, we think that those markets are going to be very good for us. We already have sites on-air in Whistler. Even though it’s very small, we think it’s a good market for us. Victoria is a logical next market. But there’s no point in opening a store in Abbotsford or wherever if the network’s not great. People won’t buy from us again. We have one shot.”

This is just the start. The carrier will place a bid for AWS-3 spectrum licenses next year. So, with the right material investment, it will be able to finally launch its much-needed LTE network, as well.

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

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