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Toronto-based company is in talks with an undisclosed number of regional players to explore potential deals for network sharing, joint investment, site sharing and marketing for its Wind Mobile brand. (Sarah Dea/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto-based company is in talks with an undisclosed number of regional players to explore potential deals for network sharing, joint investment, site sharing and marketing for its Wind Mobile brand. (Sarah Dea/The Globe and Mail)

Globalive mulls possible partnership plans Add to ...

Globalive Wireless Management Corp. is mulling strategic partnerships with regional telecommunications and cable companies in a bid to grow distribution and coverage on its network.

The Toronto-based company is in talks with an undisclosed number of regional players to explore potential deals for network sharing, joint investment, site sharing and marketing for its Wind Mobile brand.

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Tony Lacavera, chairman and chief executive officer, told delegates at the Canadian Telecom Summit on Wednesday that Wind is going “on the offense” now that it has closed the book on regulatory and legal problems stemming from its foreign ownership structure.

“It’s never been more clear that new entrants have to work together,” Mr. Lacavera said in an interview following his keynote address at the conference.

“We can’t get enough spectrum in the next auction, so we have to find ways to partner.”

In addition to finding new ways to share costs on network infrastructure, wireless spectrum purchases through deals with other new entrants may also being in the offing. Mr. Lacavera, though, declined to provide details about which companies Wind has engaged in negotiations.

Although there is perennial speculation about an eventual merger with rival Mobilicity, Wind could also benefit from strategic partnerships with other players.

Vidéotron Ltée, a unit of Quebecor Inc., for instance, has launched a wireless network in Quebec and owns spectrum in the Greater Toronto Area that it has yet to deploy. Halifax-based EastLink, meanwhile, is gearing up for the launch of its wireless network later this year.

Shaw Communications also purchased spectrum in the last auction but has put its wireless plans on hold to focus on a WiFi strategy. Some analysts, though, predict that Shaw will continue to lose market share to rival Telus Corp. without a telecom service bundle that includes a wireless offering.

While that has led to some speculation that regional cable companies like Shaw could eventually acquire new entrants such as Wind or Mobilicity, a strategic marketing agreement with one of those wireless carriers presents a logical first step.

Although he declined comment on Shaw, Mr. Lacavera stressed Wind is taking other steps to position itself for growth. For instance, it is squarely focused on gaining more lucrative “postpaid” rather “prepaid” customers. (Postpaid customers pay their bills at the end of the month rather than purchasing upfront credits for wireless service.)

“There is no value in a business that is prepaid standalone,” he said. “We have to be focused on post-paid.”

During the first-quarter of 2012, Wind’s post-paid average revenue per user (ARPU), a measure that reflects the average monthly bill, topped $34, while prepaid ARPU was $23, he said.

Wind, which has more than 430,000 customers in 12 markets, is also on the verge of announcing a cheaper European roaming rate of 20 cents per minute that stems from a new agreement signed with its foreigner backer, Amsterdam-based carrier VimpelCom Ltd.

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