Rogers and Videotron ink LTE network sharing deal

Rogers Communications and Videotron have signed an agreement which will see the two companies build and operate a shared LTE network in and around Quebec and Ottawa. The 20-year deal, which also includes the sharing of some existing infrastructure, is a cost-saving arrangement under which Rogers and Videotron will maintain their own products, services, billing systems and customer data. Over the first ten years, Videotron will pay Rogers CAD200 million (USD194 million), and Rogers will pay Videotron CAD93 million, based on the fair value of the services each is providing, reports Reuters. Rogers is also set to pay CAD180 million to acquire Videotron’s unused spectrum in the greater Toronto area that the cableco acquired in a 2008 auction, although this is subject to regulatory approval. Rival operators Telus and Bell Mobility have had shared network agreements for several years.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

Net Optics Director and Director Pro Software Release 7.5.2

This software is for Director models DIR-3400, DIR-5400, and DIR-7400 as well as Director Pro DIR-3400P or DIR-6400P.

Bug Fixes and Limitations Removed:

Item

ID

Issue Description

1

6473

In a daisy chain set up and within one filter rule, if you specified ingress traffic to be redirected to multiple ports on different units in the chain, and the data had to pass upstream and downstream through a unit that was not used in the in_port and redir portlists in the filter rule, the redirected traffic was dropped. Filter rules that redirect traffic to any of the active units in the daisy chain now function properly.

Telus’s acquisition of Mobilicity moves one step closer

The Ontario court which had been overseeing Mobilicity’s efforts to restructure its debts has approved Telus’s takeover of the beleaguered cellco. Mobilicity’s bondholders approved the proposed CAD380 million (USD366 million) deal last week, and now, following the court’s green light, the only regulatory hurdles remaining are for Canada’s Competition Bureau and Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry, to sanction the purchase.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

MTS to sell Allstream to Egyptian investment group Accelero

Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) is selling its Allstream business to Egyptian investment group Accelero Capital Holdings in a deal that values the long-distance telephony operator at around CAD520 million (USD503 million). MTS is expected to put around CAD130 million of the proceeds into its pension plan, and to repay CAD70 million in short-term indebtedness incurred in February 2013 to pre-fund the company’s pension obligations. Accelero was co-founded by Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

Mobilicity debt holders approve Telus takeover

The proposed CAD380 million (USD367 million) takeover of financially-struggling Canadian cellco Mobilicity by larger rival Telus cleared its first hurdle yesterday when more than two-thirds of Mobilicity’s debt holders approved the sale plan, following which Telus and Mobilicity will seek court approval for the transaction. The deal is by no means assured though, as it requires permission from authorities including the Competition Bureau and telecoms ministry Industry Canada, which must decide whether to bend the existing rules on large incumbents taking over new wireless entrants.

Mobilicity also announced that a vote on a recapitalisation plan which had been set for 21 May has been postponed and will go ahead only in the event of the Telus acquisition being blocked.

Mobilicity revised certain terms of its sale plan late on Wednesday night after consulting stakeholders ahead of the following day’s vote, and said it ‘received approval from the vast majority of debt holders’, although it did not reveal any details of voting, the Globe & Mail reported. Private equity firm Catalyst Capital, which owns roughly 30% of Mobilicity’s senior secured notes, had previously indicated it would oppose the cellco’s restructuring plans, while it was also aiming to negate a CAD75 million loan facility agreed by the operator.

Meanwhile, a fellow Canadian cellco, Wind Mobile – itself currently up for sale – attempted to cash in on the news with a limited offer aimed specifically at Mobilicity’s roughly 250,000 customers, who can receive one month’s free service and a free SIM card for porting to Wind; the promotion ends 10 June, the target date for completing the Telus-Mobilicity transaction.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this article

Telus agrees to buy Mobilicity

Nationwide Canadian operator Telus has entered into an agreement with Mobilicity to acquire the financially-struggling smaller cellco for CAD380 million (USD373.6 million), subject to regulatory, antimonopoly, shareholder and debt holder approval. If the deal is completed, the entire purchase price will be used to satisfy Mobilicity’s secured and unsecured debt. Mobilicity currently has around 250,000 customers on its network covering Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

William Aziz, Mobilicity’s chief restructuring officer, stated: ‘Mobilicity has been losing a significant amount of money every month. The financial strength of Telus will allow the business to be continued in a way that will benefit customers and employees. An acquisition by Telus is the best alternative for Mobilicity.’ Stewart Lyons, Mobilicity’s president, added: ‘A concern for our customers and employees led us to approach Telus, which has a reputation for a strong customer focus… I am confident Telus will look after our employees and our customers, mitigating any disruption to their service, while offering the best outcome for all stakeholders.’ If the transaction is approved, Telus says it will retain all 150 Mobilicity employees whilst integrating its operations over the coming months.

Mobilicity has begun proceedings in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice with a view to obtaining approval for a plan of arrangement under the Canadian Business Corporations Act. The plan of arrangement with Telus requires an affirmative vote by debt holders, after which Telus and Mobilicity will seek court approval of a transaction to make Mobilicity a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telus. Telus has entered into support agreements with ‘a significant number’ of Mobilicity’s debt holders who have committed to vote for the plan of arrangement pursuant to the terms and conditions of the support agreements. The statement adds that ‘Telus and Mobilicity anticipate an expeditious legal and regulatory review in view of the current circumstances Mobilicity is facing.’

However, necessary approval by the Competition Bureau and Industry Canada (the federal ministry responsible for telecoms) is by no means guaranteed, as the 2100MHz wireless spectrum bought by Mobilicity in 2008 is covered by regulations banning its transferal to a large incumbent wireless operator (i.e. Rogers, Telus or Bell) until early 2014, as part of a government strategy to raise competition. The authorities must decide whether to apply the letter of the law and block the transaction, or waive the condition and allow the purchase, which according to Telus’ chief marketing officer David Fuller, will ‘save Mobilicity from bankruptcy.’

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

Bell Canada’s turnover creeps up 0.3%

Quadruple-play national operator Bell Canada has reported a slight year-on-year increase in its first-quarter revenues, which grew by 0.3% to CAD4.348 billion (USD4.334 billion) in the three months ended 31 March 2013, driven by an increase in service revenues of 1.3%, reflecting growth in wireless, TV, internet, media and business services such as data hosting and cloud computing. EBITDA increased 2.1% to CAD1.641 billion, driven by EBITDA growth of 11.6% at Bell’s mobile division and 21.0% at Bell Media, moderated by a 4.5% decline in wireline EBITDA. Bell Canada’s consolidated EBITDA margin expanded to 37.7% in Q1 2013 from 37.1% in 1Q12, due to strong wireless revenue flow-through, diminishing wireline voice erosion, subsiding wireline costs related to the growth of Bell’s ‘Fibe TV’ IPTV customer base, and continued wireline operating cost savings.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

Telus’s EBITDA up 5%; TV base climbs 29%

Canadian quadruple-play national operator Telus has posted its first-quarter 2013 results, in which revenue increased by 4.8% year-on-year to CAD2.76 billion (USD2.75 billion) while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by more than 5% to CAD1.03 billion. During the three-month period Telus added a net 59,000 new post-paid mobile wireless customers, 34,000 TV subscribers and 16,000 fixed broadband internet customers, partially offset by ongoing expected losses of pre-paid wireless customers and wireline subscriptions. Telus’s total wireless base of 7.7 million at the end of Q1 2013 was up nearly 5% from a year earlier, and the Telus TV subscriber base of 712,000 climbed 29% year-on-year, while high speed fixed internet connections rose nearly 7% to more than 1.3 million at 31 March 2013.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

MTS Allstream EBITDA up 0.5%; investing CAD40m in rural networks

Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS Allstream) has reported a 6.5% year-on-year drop in consolidated revenues (including Manitoban and national ‘Allstream’ services) to CAD406.7 million (USD404.9 million) in the first quarter of 2013, which it attributed mostly to legacy revenue declines, including CAD14.1 million in planned reductions at Allstream, and a CAD4.8 million reduction in MTS wireless wholesale revenues as other carriers move their customers from MTS’s legacy CDMA network in Manitoba to their own HSPA networks. Consolidated EBITDA in January-March 2013 reached CAD148.6 million, up 0.5% over Q1 2012, reflecting the positive impact of cost reductions and improving margins at Allstream, partly offset by legacy and wireless wholesale declines. Quarterly CAPEX was CAD66.7 million, down 13.3% from Q1 2012, mostly due to decreased spend from previously-completed projects such as investments in upgrades to the wireless billing system and LTE wireless technology in Winnipeg and Brandon, and the completion of the 100G core network upgrade initiative at Allstream.

MTS also announced that as part of its CAD100 million 2013 network spending programme for Manitoba, more than CAD40 million will be invested in upgrades and enhancements in its rural telecommunications infrastructure, including fixed and mobile broadband. MTS will this year expand its 4G LTE wireless network to six more communities, including Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Ste. Anne, Victoria Beach and Grand Beach; LTE is currently available to 60% of Manitoba’s population, including Winnipeg and Brandon. MTS is also bringing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) under its ‘FiON’ banner to an additional 5,000 homes throughout the province, having so far launched FTTH in nine rural communities, with plans to expand to three more communities in 2013, including Beausejour, Lorette and Stonewall. Approximately 20,000 homes in Manitoba outside of Winnipeg currently have access to the FiON network. MTS will also expand DSL internet to 20 new communities in 2013, adding to the 195 communities already connected. Some of the communities that will benefit from this investment include Wabowden, Buffalo Point, Roseau River First Nation, Fisher River, Langruth, Victoria Beach, Grand Beach, West Hawk Lake and Falcon Lake.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article

Rogers rebrands 2100MHz/2600MHz LTE as ‘LTE Max’, expands coverage

Canada’s Rogers Communications has rebranded its dual-band 2600MHz and AWS (2100MHz/1700MHz) LTE network under the banner ‘LTE Max’, while announcing LTE footprint expansion to more than 20 new locations. The Samsung Galaxy S4 device supports the LTE Max dual frequencies (with automatic switching between frequencies to optimise performance), while the BlackBerry Q10 and LG Optimus G devices also support the 2600MHz range, with Rogers promising more fully-compatible devices this year. The newly covered locations include: Chatham, Milton, Sarnia, Woodstock, Orangeville, St. Catharines, King City & Bradford, Georgetown & Halton Hills, Kentville, Brantford, Collingwood, Stouffville & East Gwillimbury, Clarington, Lloydminster, plus various other areas in the Greater Toronto region. The ‘LTE Max’ network can provide (theoretical) speeds of 150Mbps, although typical speeds are closer to 12Mbps-25Mbps, with peaks close to 50Mbps, while most current devices can support speeds up to 100Mbps. LTE Max services are expected to be made available in 34 of Rogers’ 44 LTE regional markets (where it owns sufficient spectrum). Rival operator Bell, Rogers’ former partner in the pre-WiMAX 2600MHz network venture Inukshuk, has similar access to legacy frequencies in the band in markets across Canada, although so far Bell has restricted its offering of 2600MHz LTE coverage to a few selected locations, and has kept its announcements on dual-band LTE services low-key.

Thanks to TeleGeography for this Article