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Quebecor to unveil wireless service
 
    Globe and Mail  
   

BERTRAND MAROTTE

 
    October 21, 2007  
   

MONTREAL — — Pierre Karl Péladeau is expected Wednesday to unveil Quebecor Media Inc.'s much-anticipated plan for wireless service in the province, the latest salvo in its bid to become a major player in Canada's cellphone market.

Observers and analysts have been eagerly awaiting details of the project, a key plank in Mr. Péladeau's expansion strategy at Quebecor Media Inc. and its cable, Internet and telephone subsidiary Vidéotron Ltée.

"Quebecor Media made a big splash when it secured some of the spectrum up for auction" earlier this year, said Iain Grant, managing director at telecom consultancy SeaBoard Group in Montreal.

"This is phase two in their evolution, an important one where we hope to get a better sense of how they're going to go about it."

Mr. Péladeau and Vidéotron president and chief executive officer Robert Dépatie will provide the broader elements of the project but not details on things like pricing and marketing, says spokeswoman Isabelle Dessureault.

Quebecor Media acquired its share of the wireless spectrum for $555-million. It expects to spend a total of between $800-million and $1-billion over the next four years, including the build-out of its network in Quebec, operating losses in the first few years following the launch and the cost of acquiring the spectrum.

One industry source said it's an open secret that Vidéotron will announce Wednesday that its key network equipment supplier will be Nokia Siemens Networks.

Ms. Dessureault confirmed Tuesday that Nokia Siemens Networks made the short list to supply equipment such as routers, switches and transmitters.

Telecom consultant Eamon Hoey said it's probably too soon for Quebecor Media to say who it wants to partner with in order to get access to rival cellphone companies' networks outside the province.

Mr. Péladeau said last month he's well positioned to consider partnerships with wireless service providers outside Quebec.

"Those kinds of deals will evolve as this thing starts to be built out," said Mr. Hoey.

"They have a lot of work to do just rolling out the service. What I'm expecting them to say [today] is how long it will take to roll it out, the technology they've picked and when they expect to turn the service on," he said.

 


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