New wireless player Public Mobile has struck an exclusive retail agreement with Gateway Newstands, the subway-station and shopping-mall newspaper and magazine vendor, the companies said on Tuesday.
The move expands Public Mobile's retail footprint significantly and comes after other large players in the crowded wireless market attempt to expand their point-of-purchase presence beyond branded corporate stores to reach the maximum number of potential customers.
The companies said in a release that Gateway has 152 locations in Toronto at transit stations, downtown buildings, and commuter train platforms, which would increase to roughly 200 the number of locations exclusively selling Public Mobile phones. The kiosks will also allow customers to pay their bills.
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Over the next few months, Gateway kiosks in Montreal will also provide the service.
"Gateway is the perfect partner, they're everywhere we want to be," Public Mobile's chief executive officer, Alek Krstajic, said in a release Tuesday.
Retail partnerships between wireless providers and retail chains tend to echo the pecking order of the $40-billion industry.
Public Mobile's partnership with Gateway will expand the brand's presence among Toronto transit users - in line with the company's explicit strategy of targeting low-income Canadians and recent immigrants.
Public Mobile's deal is of a pattern, though smaller than other such transactions by wireless firms.
BCE Inc. last year acquired The Source, which resulted in Rogers Communications Inc. being evicted from the electronics retailer and giving Bell Canada more than 750 stores across Canada.
Rogers also recently announced a pilot agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart Corp., and Wind Mobile struck a retail partnership with the Blockbuster Inc. movie rental chain which, however, is shuttering stores.
New retail partnerships with the wireless industry are apparently cropping up on the radars of potential partners across Canada.
Recently, Canada Post tried to get in on the action, taking out big newspaper ads offering its country-wide chain of post offices to an exclusive wireless provider. Since this would also include many rural areas, none of the new companies in Canada's wireless industry, such as Mobilicity or Wind Mobile, are expected to send in bids.