It’s official: Vidéotron wants to expand into Western Canada

The Quebec telecom giant begins its latest bid to become Canada’s fourth national carrier

Vidéotron’s CEO has confirmed that the Montreal-based cable, wireless and internet company intends to expand its business into the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.

In an interview with Postmedia’s editorial board, Pierre Karl Péladeau announced that his company will in fact use the 3,500MHz radio spectrum it purchased at the federal government’s summer auction to enter the telecom market in Western Canada.

While refusing to give a firm number, Péladeau suggested that a fourth national competitor in that market could result in 15 to 30 percent lower prices for consumers.

The announcement comes the day after the Federal Court rejected a request from Telus that would have temporarily blocked Quebecor — Vidéotron’s parent company — from using the spectrum it purchased in Canada’s western provinces.

Telus and Bell are currently taking Quebecor to court, arguing that those spectrum purchases should not have been permitted because Vidéotron does not currently offer services in that part of the country.

However, Péladeau is now countering that his company intends to do just that.

The interview quotes him saying that Quebecor scooped up spectrum in Western Canada not “to flip an asset,” but to “build a business” in the region.

For context, Vidéotron has previously sold spectrum for profit. However, its reasoning at the time seemed less to do with hoarding resources and more to do with the high barrier to entry for mid-sized carriers hoping to step foot into Canada’s highly concentrated national telecom market, where Bell, Rogers and Telus have a legally-questionable stranglehold.

Case in point: Vidéotron sold that spectrum to Shaw Communications in 2017, and now Shaw is being gobbled up by Rogers.

Moreover, as the Vancouver Sun article notes, Vidéotron “still needs to strike deals with the existing carriers to piggyback on their networks to launch initially” — a process made all the more tricky by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s decision to backpedal on lowered wholesale rates that would have evened the playing field for small-and-medium-sized internet service providers.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

Updated 26/10/2021 at 7:09 PM: A previous version of this story mistakenly listed Saskatchewan, instead of Manitoba, as one of the provinces Vidéotron is targeting.

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