WIND Mobile: Mobilicity’s Spectrum Needed for LTE Network to Compete with Big 3

Speaking today at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, WIND Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera spoke about what the company needs to compete with incumbent carriers Rogers, Telus and Bell. He described behaviour by the Big 3 as “anti-competitive”:

Spectrum is needed by the startup carrier to build its LTE network to truly compete, and that spectrum needs to come from Mobilicity or somewhere else, according to Bloomberg:

“A combination with other new-entrant spectrum or a combination with Mobilicity would be of a significant benefit to both companies,” Lacavera said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “The challenge we at Wind face is securing any one of these sources of spectrum at terms and value levels that the business of Wind can support, and within the timeframe that the spectrum is needed to meet LTE demand.”

Lacavera revealed WIND Mobile now has over 735,000 subscribers, adding 21,000 last month alone. The company has did not meet its original target goal of 1.5 million subscribers after three years, set back in December 2009 when it first started.

He noted the company is not “dead”, despite recent reports from analysts. WIND’s average revenue per user (ARPU) stands at $38 per month for users on contracts, while the number is at $23 for prepaid users; in comparison, Rogers had an ARPU of $65.20 in its first quarter of this year:

“There’s been a lot of analysts reports suggesting the end is nigh or Wind is dead,” he said in the interview. “That’s just all categorically false.”

In order to build its LTE network, WIND will require $400 to $500 million US to build it, a process that will take roughly two years to complete. A faster LTE network will be required in the next 3-4 years to compete with incumbent carriers, Lacavera noted in an interview.

Currently, unlocked iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units (and late model AWS iPhone 5) support WIND Mobile’s AWS network.

WIND did not participate in the federal government’s 700MHz spectrum action, as the carrier’s parent company decided not to fund the bids at the last minute. This left the carrier empty handed in its goal of acquiring the faster and extended spectrum, but has some analysts believing Quebecor could possibly strike a deal to acquire WIND.

Vimpelcom, the parent company of WIND, noted at the company’s recent Q1 2014 earnings call they are still looking to either sell their Canadian investment or “combine it with others and take a smaller position in a larger entity.”


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