Should T-Mobile Buy WIND to Shake Up the Wireless Industry?


The Canadian mobile landscape is about to undergo a change, as Shaw has announced that it will acquire WIND Mobile (and also sell its Media assets to Corus to fund the $1.6 billion deal). If you are wondering whether this acquisition will bring benefits to wireless customers, you aren’t the only one. Vafa Akhavan, founder and senior adviser at NueBridge, has serious doubts (via Globe and Mail). Furthermore, he thinks WIND should be acquired not by Shaw, but by T-Mobile.

Wind mobile 350x172

So here’s my proposed alternative: That Wind be acquired by T-Mobile instead. It’s a better fit in terms of business model, and T-Mobile would be a far greater innovator and disruptive force in the Canadian wireless landscape. Everything it’s done in the United States has been positive for the customer. There, it has emerged as a customer-centric company, something we lack in Canada.

Fact is, we’ve seen how the dynamics of the US wireless market have changed since T-Mobile launched its “UnCarrier” offerings. Akhavan highlights the core benefits of these offerings: unlimited everything and great service, at great prices. That’s a business model that doesn’t seem to exist in the list of business 101 books read by the leaders of the Big 3.

As sketched out by Akhavan, the business models of WIND and T-Mobile have similarities and even strong ties: both offer deals on all-exclusive data, voice, and text, and T-Mobile even offers unlimited data in more than 120 countries. By the way, David Carey (T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s right-hand man) sits on Wind’s board, as does Hamid Akhavan, previously CEO at T-Mobile International.

But before we jump to conclusions and start calling Legere to outbid Shaw in a possible Wind Mobile acquisition, let’s not forget what happened not so long ago when a US carrier was rumoured to be entering the Canadian mobile market.

We don’t have to go back too far to see the reaction from all the major players to rumours of Verizon possibly acquiring WIND Mobile. You may recall the outrage and concern of Canadian carriers, who fought to defend their investment in building their business.

Verizon ultimately walked away, and everything returned to “normal”. The Big 3 still control the majority of the mobile market, and it will take years before we see the effect of the Shaw–WIND merger.

By the way, the CRTC has tweeted today that it needs your input on the transfer of Shaw Media’s shares to Corus. This is vital for the Shaw–WIND deal, because Shaw will use the money to fund its wireless ambitions. The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2016, and you can submit a comment by clicking on the following link.


  • JB

    YES. Verizon would have been another stale high-priced player (with the lone benefit to consumers of shaking up North American roaming). T-Mobile, however, is a major disruptor. BRING THEM ON!

  • FragilityG4

    Nothing would change. Why would they undercut the huge profits the Pig 3 has created? They would come here for profits not friends.

  • KS

    I don’t think this hypothetical situation will ever see light of the day. The Canadian Government and the CRTC have made it abundantly clear that they do not appreciate competition.

  • iJackS

    YES PLZ!

  • runner

    Not going to happen as long as the CRTC is around.

  • Jeff Artiss

    Would love to see T-Mobile come to Canada – especially if they can keep their style and format of plans that is offered in the US. A change from the Big 3 that have controlled us and monopolize the industry would be nice. Tired of ridiculously hight plans for little.

  • Salinger

    Would it be a great thing? Absolutely, I think every wireless consumer in Canada would agree.

    Is it going to happen? Nope, absolutely not.

    This isn’t coming from T-Mobile, these are baseless musings by some Canadian corporate type on what he’d like to see. It has no more impact on what is going to happen than if any one of us said the same thing.

    Come back and see us when T-Mobile itself starts talking about acquiring Wind.

  • FragilityG4

    How has the Canadian Government “made it abundantly clear they do not appreciate competition”? The Pig 3 were trying to sue the government for courting Verizon a few years back. They have also amendment many wireless policies in order to make things more customer oriented (it’s backfired in some cases because the public accepts the telecoms lameduck excuse that two year terms have raised prices)

  • KS

    Amendments, made after consultations with the stake-holders ironically constituting members from the telecom industry, is merely a lip service according to me. Not allowing additional telecom companies shows the Government is encouraging the Big 3’s agenda.

    Also, I don’t understand how constitutional it is to sue the Government in order to bar an entry of a competition? If they lose, doesn’t our stand get vindicated that the collective monopoly by the Big 3 was indeed illegitimate? And if the Big 3 wins, doesn’t it raise questions on whether our constitution favours fair trade? And if so, isn’t that the part of the constitution which needs to be amended?

    Whichever way you look at it, the Government cannot escape its share of blame.

  • MGSayah

    I don’t think this will ever happen, because:
    1- CRTC exists and serves as a lobbyist platform for the Big 3.
    2- T-Mobile already covers Canada through a partnership with the Big 3. It’s already serving its customer base in the US with north american coverage and international coverage.

  • FragilityG4

    I guess you have to be more specific on which government you are talking about. The Harper Government was very much for bringing in competition and tried to with Verizon. They changed international ownership rules to make it possible but at the end of the day it was Verizon’s choice and they chose not.

  • KS

    The very fact that the Big 3 continue to enjoy an upper hand in dominating the Canadian telecom market after all, suggests that all previous Governments could’ve done a lot of things but didn’t. If the incumbent Government fails to rectify this, their name too will be added to that list.

  • Chris

    While I wish someone would shakeup the cell phone industry in Canada, anyone buying Wind sadly wont make any difference in my part of the country (east coast) as Eastlink have the “new entrant” status in the east.
    I wish Eastlink would have made a difference here in NS but sadly, they pretty much cost more if you want an iPhone. (zero down sounds great but paying $42 a month on top of your plan isn’t)

  • FragilityG4

    The problem was blocking foreign ownership all those years ago. Now who wants to come in with three well established competitors and build a new network.

  • erth

    the real answer is, we need more competition. and you can see this in the provinces that have a 4th carrier. they get very good deals in data (ie. 6 gb plans). so, if shaw is going to lazily buy this and take years to implement, then T-Mobile or Verizon should get on over here. the other issue is, is Canada business friendly. and the answer to that is, not in Ontario. so I would think there would have to be a concerted effort at the government level to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to come to Canada. real cheaper.

  • KS

    Ah… If only Apple had thought that way, we’d have been discussing Blackberry rumours today ????

  • FragilityG4

    Apples and oranges (no pun intended) wireless service and devices are completely different markets. As new entrant to a wireless market there’s huge start up cost including buying spectrum and setting up towers which cost millions. On top of that you have to rue away clients from other carriers no doubt trapped in contracts. All Apple had to do here was redirect some iPhone shipments to Canada. Hardly a sound analogy.

  • jf-laferriere