Videotron boss launches argument for the company’s wireless ambitions in the West


“We (have proven in) these 15 years of activity that we are a serious competitor. We are not here to reverse an asset, we are here to create a business because it is our core business.” – The CEO of Videotron, Pierre Karl Péladeau.

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The Quebec mobile phone company Videotron says it is ready to seriously compete with wireless services in Western Canada, but has no timetable to put cheaper cell phones in the hands of consumers in British Columbia.

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“As an operator, we can act very quickly,” said Videotron boss Pierre Karl Péladeau, stressing that his company has been in business in Quebec since 2006, so it already has the technology, billing systems and technology. ‘experience.

Videotron, through an auction in July that was preferential for smaller players, spent $ 830 million to secure radio spectrum for its Western ambitions to launch in Manitoba, Alberta and at least the southern half of British Columbia.

Competition in wireless services has been a federal priority, with measures such as last summer’s auctions and a recent CRTC ruling requiring incumbents to provide fair access to new entrants to graft onto their infrastructure.

Péladeau, who is also CEO of the parent company of Videotron, the cable and media conglomerate Quebecor, says his company is on its way to becoming that fourth competitor, based on its record in Quebec where the bills of cell phones have declined since entering the market.

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“The proof of the pudding is (in the) eating,” said Péladeau. “So when you have a fourth operator, you can get better prices. “

He was hesitant to specify what Videotron’s targets would be to offer lower prices in Western Canada, but suggested they could be in the range of 15 to 35 percent.

“Obviously, we are not going to make our proposal public,” said Péladeau. “If I had to say something, would Telus, Bell and Rogers reproduce this right away. It is not impossible.

The company has yet to strike deals with existing operators to graft onto their networks for the initial launch, which the CRTC is now demanding, although the Big Three have resisted.

Péladeau spoke with a Postmedia editorial board that had just rejected an attempt by Telus to seek an injunction in the Federal Court to suspend the purchase of spectrum by Videotron on the grounds that it was not eligible to participate in the auction.

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Videotron has been here before, having bought spectrum, including in Western Canada in previous auctions, which it sold in 2017 at a profit.

And cable competitor Shaw has struggled to grow the Freedom Mobile brand it bought in 2017 as the fourth competitor in Western Canada.

Shaw recently agreed to sell to Rogers for $ 26 billion, which may require the sale of Freedom to gain federal approval.

“We (have proven in) these 15 years of operation that we are a serious competitor,” said Péladeau. “We are not here to reverse an asset, we are here to create a business because it is our core business. “

The CEO said building the network he will need in the long run will represent an investment of “billions of dollars,” but the fact that Videotron is not a household name among Western consumers will not necessarily be an obstacle to a breakthrough. in the market.

That’s as long as Videotron can enter the Western market at significantly lower prices, said marketing expert Lindsay Meredith, professor emeritus at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.

“Canadians aren’t particularly happy with the cell phone rates they pay, which are among the highest in the world,” said Meredith. “If you come up with this kind of basic and simple operation and are in fact able to offer a fairly good price, that niche market is definitely there.”

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