In preparation for the launch of its cell phone service later this year, Quebecor Inc.'s Vidéotron division has announced the creation 600 new positions, many of them related to the new wireless venture.
"These jobs will be related to the deployment of our wireless network," a Vidéotron representative said in an interview on Wednesday.
The new positions follow the creation of 600 positions in 2009, many of which went into a new customer service centre in Montreal.
Quebecor, a media powerhouse in Quebec, was one of several companies that bought wireless spectrum licenses at an Industry Canada auction in 2008. The auction was orchestrated by the federal government to shake up an industry dominated by the Big Three national wireless incumbents, Rogers Communications Inc. , Telus Corp. , and BCE Inc.' s Bell Canada.
Although much of the attention so far has focused on pure wireless new entrants, such as Wind Mobile, Dave Wireless, and Public Mobile, cable companies such as Vidéotron have the opportunity to bundle services with existing subscriber bases for cable and broadband Internet services. That gives cable companies with wireless plans streamlined access to millions of customers.
Shaw Communications Inc., another regional Canadian cable player, has bought spectrum mainly in Western Canada and said it will take "initial steps" this year in its wireless roll-out. On a conference call last week, Shaw chief executive officer and vice-chairman Jim Shaw offered few details on the company's wireless plan, saying simply that it was exploring partnerships and ensuring that its launch would be successful.
An analyst at Desjardins Securities said it's crucial that Vidéotron maintain its customer service standards as it makes the move to wireless.
"The customer service is a key differentiating factor for Quebecor," said Maher Yaghi, a telecom and cable analyst with Desjardins in Montreal. "It's something they need to set up before and during the launch of their wireless network."
Some of the new jobs will be for specialized telecom employees, such as engineers, network analysts and programmer analysts. Others will work the retail and customer service side of the wireless venture: point-of-sale kiosk employees, for example, or technicians and customer service representatives. And some will be indirectly related to wireless, such as ones in human resources that specialize in hiring highly technical employees, a spokesperson said.
Vidéotron currently offers some wireless services through a wireless roaming service agreement with Rogers, but it does not aggressively market this since the company stands to lose money, Mr. Yaghi said. That agreement will end when Vidéotron launches its own wireless network, which is currently being built across Quebec.