Québecor: National Wireless Expansion On Hold Until Ottawa Changes Rules

For those hoping for Quebec’s Videotron to expand as a national wireless carrier—hold that thought. Quebecor, the wireless startup’s parent company told shareholders during a conference call it won’t expand until Ottawa changes wireless rules to give smaller companies a fighting chance, reports The Globe and Mail.

Robert Dépatie, CEO of Québecor said it does not want the same fate as previous companies that tried to expand nationwide against wireless incumbents:

“We are well aware that some have tried to compete in the past in the Canadian wireless business and have struggled. Repeating the history is not our plan,”


“All of our energy in the next months will be spent at determining whether the right conditions could be implemented before deploying additional resources in such a venture,”

This marks the first time Quebecor has shared details of its wireless intentions after winning 7 licenses for 700MHz spectrum across Quebec, Southern Ontario, BC and Alberta at a cost of $233 million, which Dépatie called an “opportunity” his company “could not let pass”.

The CEO did not share specifics of its demands for expanding outside Quebec but analysts suspect it would involve Ottawa securing roaming rights on incumbent networks at a lower fixed-cost.

Quebecor also denied interest in acquiring wireless upstarts Wind Mobile or Mobilicity, despite rumours it had placed offers to purchase the latter with offers of $200 million.

When probed about stories of Videotron customers jumping to Bell after top executive and shareholder Pierre Karl Péladeau resigned to announce his running for a Parti Québécois seat in the upcoming Quebec provincial election, Vidéotron president and chief operating officer, Manon Brouillette brushed it aside to rather focus on the company’s LTE network, which will launch this summer in Quebec and Ottawa, covering “at least 70 percent” of their market.

Today’s 2013 earnings revealed 503,300 total wireless subscribers on Videotron, which helped increase revenues by $28.3 million (0.7%) to $4.28 billion compared to 2012.