A lot has changed over the past 18 months: A little more than a year ago, Quebecor was “ready, willing and able” to take on Canada’s incumbents. Quebecor stepped back and, earlier in September, stated clearly that it wouldn’t build a national wireless network. Fast forward to today: CEO and president of the company Pierre Dion said Quebecor is considering selling the $300 million worth of wireless spectrum outside Québec (via CTVNews).
Dion made the comment during the company’s earnings call when discussing the third-quarter results, which, by the way, surpassed analyst estimates.
Quebecor has acquired wireless spectrum licences outside Québec during the government auctions, fuelling speculation that it plans to take on the Big Three by launching a national wireless network.
However, despite its spectrum acquisitions, the local wireless player refrained from starting expansion, saying the regulatory framework wasn’t attractive enough and pointed to domestic roaming rates as one of the major reasons. Since then, the CRTC has moved to cap wholesale roaming rates.
Last year, after the 700 MHz auction closed, Quebecor said that it “couldn’t pass up the opportunity to invest in licences of such great intrinsic value in the rest of Canada”, and even back then it said the company had a number of options available to maximize the value of the investment. Remember, Quebecor paid $233 million for seven licences in Québec, Ontario, BC, and Alberta.
Now Quebecor is looking to maximize their return on investment in spectrum licences it owns outside Québec. Among the options is to sell it to incumbents, as the rules on the resale of spectrum have apparently softened (see Rogers’ acquisition of Mobilicity).