Update: WIND taking another look at scooping up Mobilicity

Ian Hardy

December 3, 2013 10:34 am

WIND Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity all entered the Canadian wireless space during the 2008 spectrum auction. Many millions have been invested and it seems the end is near — consolidation is happening. Public Mobile was recently given the green light by the Competition Bureau for TELUS to acquire 100% of their business (spectrum and 280,000 wireless subs), and now Mobilicity is on the cusp of holding an auction to sell off their assets.

Yesterday, December 2nd, was the final date for those interested parties to submit their intent to participate in Mobilicity’s December 9th auction. It’s rumoured that Mobilicity is seeking $350 million for both its wireless spectrum and 189,000 wireless subscribers. First up is rival new entrant WIND Mobile — which is not too much of a shocker considering Tony Lacavera, WIND’s CEO, stated back in June that there’s a “renewed opportunity for discussion” to purchase Mobilicity when the Industry Minister declined TELUS’ $380 million bid.

In a statement in the Globe and Mail today, Lacavera stated “Wind requires additional spectrum in order to advance our business plan for next generation wireless services and compete long-term on a level playing field with the Big Three. Wind has always maintained the need for new entrants to consolidate and work together to compete against the oligopoly.”

The statement does not outright confirm their intentions to participate, but surely brings a heavy dose of interest in potentially acquiring Mobilicity’s assets. No other word yet on other participating carriers or businesses, but we’ll likely hear of the full list before the auction takes place on December 9th.

Update: WIND Mobile sent us this official statement on the possibility of bidding in Mobilicity’s upcoming auction: “Like any other organization, WIND is always considering options and evaluating any opportunities available to us. In regards to the Mobilicity auction, we are currently reviewing the assets on offer at this time and investigating what will be most beneficial to us long-term.”

  • silver_arrow

    Seriously Wind would be the best buyer for us. They have a compatible network which would help improve Winds network and they operate in similar cities so imagine a massive addition of towers.

    Though there is the chance that Wind becomes a part of the Big 4 and gives in there is that chance if someone else buys Mobilicity.

    • Adam

      Wind is probably not interested in the towers so much as the spectrum. Wind does not have enough spectrum in many areas to migrate to LTE; in many areas, they’ve got the minimum amount of spectrum required for HSPA, leaving nothing to migrate users. Mobilicity has spectrum everywhere Wind does, which would immediately solve that problem.

      Wind either needs to get that spectrum from Mobilicity (and they’re likely one of the few companies who would be permitted to buy it anyhow), or they need to win big in the 700MHz auction.

      Personally, I’m rooting for the 700MHz auction, because that’s the only way that Wind is going to get into Montreal.

    • Sequoia46.2

      I always wondered why Wind hadn’t set up in Montreal. I’m not sure if spectrum bids are limited to regional blocks. Wondering how this works.

    • icemasta

      Wind does not have any spectrum licenses for Quebec. In the AWS auction, Videotron purchased all the Quebec set aside spectrum. Videotron spent as much in only Quebec and Wind did for all their spectrum licenses.

      In regards to 700Mhz auction, unless they plan to overspend and try and best Videotron, Wind is unlikely to get Quebec 700Mhz spectrum.

    • Tony Jabroni

      wind did not bid, it was not a sale jabroni it was an auction

    • Patrick Cuyegkeng

      What all the new players (Wind, Videotron, Eastlink) should do is work together more. Roaming freely amongst each other’s regions (or at least at a considerably reduced cost) would really open up some additional coverage territories for their customers and make them as a whole more “national”. Granted, that deal would probably be more advantageous for Eastlink and Videotron than Wind.

      Someone should also buy Shaw’s abandoned spectrum (unless someone already did that) since they bought some and later decided against building out the actual network.

    • Comrade Yeti

      I think Rogers has an agreement to buy Shaw’s spectrum once the block is lifted

    • Accophox

      IF IC allows it. I bet there’s a good chance that IC will deny the application – as per the original “We will not approve any spectrum transfer request that decreases competition in our wireless sector to the detriment of consumers”

    • ScooterinAB

      I absolutely agree. The only way that wireless is going to continue to grow and develop in this country is if companies start working together on more tower and spectrum sharing agreements. If each of the Big 3 is allowed to claim one of the four blocks, that only leaves one block in each region to be fought over to the death by everyone else.

      Regarding Shaw’s spectrum, I thought they were using it for their WiFi network. Though I could be wrong.

    • Accophox

      Wifi operates on 2.4 and 5GHz public use spectrum. You’d need special equipment to operate on 1700/2100.

    • ToniCipriani

      It’s a little more complex than that, actually. I was told that Mobilicity uses Ericsson equipment and WIND uses Huawei, so the cell towers will need to be rebuilt in order for the networks to be compatible.

      But regardless, still better than any of the Big 3 to buy them.

    • CADDMan71

      That’s not as big a problem as you’d think. When you’re roaming on a different carrier’s network it’s likely they’re using different equipment also. Think of it like a DVD working in either a Sony or Toshiba player, different electronics but able to read the transmission standard.
      If that weren’t the case then unlocking your phone would be a useless gesture as it would only work on a specific carrier’s network. It’s all how the signals are handed off which is something taken care of at the CO.

    • ToniCipriani

      On the cell towers access yes, but on a backend integration standpoint I mean, for the towers to inter-operate and manage.

      I have a friend who work in Huawei sales told me this.

    • Savbers

      How do you roam on Rogers then? Wind’s network is built by Huawei and Rogers’ is built by Ericsson.

    • Tony Jabroni

      sawbears as usual your paytroll self comes out. to manage the network as 1 you need the same equipment.. but since vimpelcom wants to sell it and rogers can buy it AFTER the waiting period is over but you did not want to mention that. Frankly I doubt that anyone really cares about wind..

    • ToniCipriani

      Like I said it’s the backend network management. I never said phone interoperability was.

    • Savbers

      OK. I guess I just misinterpreted your post. :)

    • Sweet

      I doubt Wind would be able to use much of Mobilicity’s equipment, since Wind runs an all-IP network (a.k.a. Next Generation Network) whereas Mobilicity doesn’t.

      I’m hoping Wind can at least use Mobi’s towers.

    • deltatux

      What makes you think Mobilicity doesn’t? Both WIND and Mobilicity run the same generation network. Both are running HSPA+ networks, just from two different equipment manufacturers.

    • Supa_Fly

      There is no BIG 4 unless you’re suggesting Wind will be with just another 180’000?

      LTE would DEFINITELY occur with Wind as owners, some consolidation of towers or redistribute into new areas would occur.

      Question is why is Wind even bothering when they have their own financial issues and CRTC already gave the OK for Telus

  • James

    Go wind!

  • Donny

    I’m about to sign up with Wind, and I approve this acquisition!

  • Columbo

    That would be awesome, though I wonder how they can afford it.

    • J-Ro

      It’s a bid. If anyone puts up more money, it is up for grabs.

    • Tony Jabroni

      saying you are interested in it and actually bidding are 2 different things.

    • Columbo

      True; I’m just surprised that their financial situation even allows for consideration. (And don’t get me wrong, I’m a big WIND fan).

    • Tony Jabroni

      I am sure tony will just cry and whine when he does not get his way.. so whats the debt up to now boys? is it true that wind can not even make the interest payments? I wonder when Vimpelcom will just sell them off to Rogers?

  • Samuel Gomez Recuero

    I rather have WIND to get it. the Robelus corporation already have more than 80% of the canadian spectrum covered!

  • Sensualpoet

    It’s a bit of misrepresentation to refer to the Mobilicity sales process as an “auction”. The court approved interim managers have put the company and its assets, in whole or in part, “as is, where is” and have invited bids. The interim manager is not obligated to take the highest or any bidder; and while bidders are “qualified” in an internal process from Dec 2 to Dec 9, there is no deposit required to participate. The actual bids might never be released; presumably the winning bid(s) will become part of the court record.

  • Gene79

    hmmm almost 1M subs is a much more appealing buy for Verizon. That will be be your big 4.

    • johnny2times

      Agreed

  • beyond

    Why don’t carriers just operate on whatever frequency they want? Why all this spectrum auction? I mean if Wind wants LTE, why can’t they just start putting up towers that use LTE spectrum and be done with it?

    • Canadaboy

      Have you ever listened to AM or FM radio – raw, not through the internet – where one broadcast, because it’s closer to you or has more signal strength, not only wipes out others signals on that same frequency but bleeds and distorts other frequencies near that one? If not, that question explains why.

  • Accophox

    Mobilicity’s subscribers aren’t worth anything currently. Too low of a blended ARPU. If Wind does take over Mobi, I bet that all those plans would not be grandfathered.

  • Jakob

    Sinking ships saving sinking ships

    • chris

      Just because they don’t have the network and userbase of 20 years doesn’t mean they’re sinking. Would you rather be stuck without competition?

    • Jakob

      Have you not followed Wind news? Financial trouble, potential sales, growing debt.

    • Wild

      That’s part of buisness. look at how many corporations go through the same thing only to post record profits including rodgers.

    • chris

      I have. I haven’t seen any evidence that they are in financial trouble, nor that their debt is growing. Facebook and Google have both been up for sale before, that means nothing.

    • Sweet

      How do you know Wind is sinking ?

  • Sweet

    Wind will most likely be the only Canadian carriers bidding on Mobi’s spectrum, since that spectrum is in provinces that they regionals don’t operate in, with the exception of Ontario , where TBay operates. So it all depends on whether the regional carriers want to expand into other provinces or not.

    My gut tells me that it’s unlikely they’ll have the money to expand much, certainly not national. So if they do decide to expand their region, they’ll most-likely buy spectrum in one other province.

  • Sweet

    From what I’ve read, Mobilicity can also sell their operating losses, which IIRC was last reported to be around $400M. The Big 3 would certainly be interested in that, since the Big 3 can use it to offset their gains and thus reduce their income taxes.

  • Wild

    So what should I do? Jump ship and go with Wind’s $39 promo or stick it out with Mobilicity’s $ 25 unlimited program which will expire in a month….

    • Sweet

      I’m going to stick with Mobilicity until the last day of Wind’s $39 promo, unless Mobilicity shuts down service before then. My guess is that Mobilicity will be shut down this month.

    • Wild

      I don’t know about shutting down this month but then it’s a roll of the dice anyway. I’m calling 611 tomorrow to see what offers are available for present subscribers but there’s no way I will pay the $40 administration fee. Not going to pay the fee for registering my unlocked phone either.

    • Columbo

      Like the other poster said, stick with Mobilicity until just before the WIND promo expires then make the switch. Odds are your $25 plan won’t be around much longer, and you don’t want to wait another year for a new WIND promo.

    • Wild

      I’m considering it, as long as the Wind sale is open that long.

    • Columbo

      I think it goes till Dec 24. They also have a bunch of phones on sale until that day, so you’re killing 2 birds with one stone!

    • Wild

      Already have an unlocked Nexus 5 so I’m ready to swap sim cards in a flash.

  • PT

    Wind! Just do it!

  • Who Needs Facts

    “It’s become clear that the original prepaid business plan was not going to work,” he said. Now, about 55 percent of Wind’s customer base is on contracts, including 60 to 70 percent of new customers, Lacavera said.

    Lmao. You think? It took you how many years to figure this out? Now when you start charging enough to actually cover your costs you will become a viable business.

    Welcome to the party Wind. Better late than never I suppose but I still want to know who is actually funding this as well as their 700Mhz spectrum purchases?

    • Tony Jabroni

      I think tony will go on tv crying about how he can’t build a hotel on beachfront property. he means he has no money, the well is dry and the owner of wind wants to sell. Gents I think nuke is right in saying that rogers has the only bid worth looking at on wind.. hear him out.. windiots will be able to finally have a signal! well unless you are brian ” the ipad stapler ” he has awesome signal in his dope den!

      when tony said they had the most megga hurts I LOL’d almost as much as nuke stacking prep h in the toothpaste isle. he still a box boy?

      gooooooo wind! errr vimpelcom

  • Tiago

    when do you guys thing mobilicity will cease to exist ? i have signed up for automatic payments with my credit card and im worried ill still keep getting charged after theyre gone

  • Sierra Lopez

    im on mobi’s $30/month plan and if i can keep it when wind buys mobi i’ll be so happy :D

  • Sam

    let go wind, come on we need more coverage !!!!!

  • Biswajit

    9674005557