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    Telecom report investigates possible wireless partnerships, prefers Globalive and MTS Allstream  
    Financial Post  

David George-Cosh

    September 22, 2008  

Following this past summer’s spectrum auction, Canada’s wireless picture is looking clearer with each passing day. Adding to the noise of likely partnerships and qualms about foreign investment limits is a report by telecom consultancy SeaBoard Group on the possible strategies each company may pursue going forward.

The report generally focuses on the possibility of whether a new entrant will engage in a national partnership to combat the three Canadian incumbent carriers many consumers have long bemoaned about. Not surprisingly, most of the spotlight has been on Globalive Communications Corp.’s wireless unit, which has enough spectrum (save for Quebec) to launch a coast-to-coast national operator.

But question marks still persist as to whether Globalive will go it alone (along with its deep-pocketed financial backers, Egyptian-based Orascom Telecom) or strike a deal with another new entrant. SeaBoard continues to entertain the notion that an alliance with MTS Allstream makes the most logical sense.

According to SeaBoard, MTS Allstream offers an national enterprise subscriber base of about 200,000 companies, a coast-to-coast fibre optc network which could aid in mobile base-station backhaul, existing engineering and operations infrastructure as well as Canadian equity, an important fact in light of Globalive’s foreign relations.

Furthermore, a partnership with provincial cable operator Cogeco Cable should also be investigated. The company, which counts about 900,000 cable subscribers in Ontario and Quebec would help a prospective wireless partner with instant access to nearly a million pre-qualified households, aiding in distribution and customer acquisition costs.

Finally, SeaBoard also looked at the winners of the “G” block licences, which is considered to be not economically or commercially viable spectrum for handsets. Although no company has declared what they would do with the spectrum, licence owners such as MTS Allstream and SaskTel may use the bandwidth of cellular backhaul, while new entrants such as Novus Wireless, Globalive and M/C Ventures may be waiting until affordable handsets are made to take advantage of the spectrum before deploying coverage.


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