Quebecor: No Plans to Expand Wireless Services to Rest of Canada


Don’t expect Quebecor to build wireless infrastructure outside Quebec, because it won’t. Forget about plans for a national expansion, because they won’t happen. Instead, Quebecor is now looking to cash in on the investment it made when the company acquired set-aside spectrum during the government auctions in 2014 and 2015.

As Quebecor Inc. prepares to ramp up investment in its data centre business, the company has finally laid to rest the question of whether it will build a wireless network outside of Quebec and the answer is “no.”

Chief financial officer Jean-François Pruneau told an investor conference hosted by CIBC in Montreal on Wednesday the company is not considering “building a new wireless network from scratch in the rest of Canada.”

The fact is, the whole Canadian wireless landscape changed when the federal government allowed Rogers to acquire Mobilicity (it rejected Telus three times for some reason but then changed its position and eased wireless transfer rules). By allowing the Mobilicity acquisition, the government opened the door for smaller players to make more cash.

“Now it’s possible to believe — even on a short-term basis — that transferring the spectrum to an incumbent could be done,” Quebecor chief financial officer Jean-François Pruneau said to the Globe and Mail.

Quebecor paid $300 million for spectrum licences in 2014 and 2015, but those licences are now worth much more than that. Now the carrier has two options: either sell the set-aside spectrum to incumbents for cash (a likely scenario, because it can recoup the money it invested and focus on its future plans, such as building a data centre in Montreal) or partner with Wind Mobile.

Pruneau says if they choose Wind, it would be for either cash or securities (they had discussions about a possible partnership earlier last year). Quebecor could add “value to Wind’s operations” through the spectrum licences, expertise, and purchasing power for mobile devices.