Struggling wireless carrier Mobilicity is again asking the courts for more time to evaluate its options as it continues to look for a buyer and shuts down parts of its network to save money.
The telecom new entrant has been under creditor protection for almost a year and unable to find a suitable buyer – despite striking several deals with Telus Corp. – as the federal government will not allow it to sell to one of Canada's incumbent wireless carriers.
In a court filing Thursday, Mobilicity requested the seventh extension of a "stay" period shielding it from legal action to Dec. 1 from Sept. 26.
Chief restructuring officer William Aziz said in an affidavit the company needs the time to review possible alternatives, noting that since a Toronto court granted the last extension in June, "significant events have taken place in [Mobilicity's] proceedings and in the wireless industry in which they operate."
He pointed to Ottawa's announcement that it will hold an additional spectrum auction early next year with rules designed to favour existing new entrants.
Wind Mobile, which announced a recapitalization plan on Tuesday, and Mobilicity are the only players that could take advantage of those rules in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Some observers speculate that Mobilicity could reach some type of merger or takeover agreement with Wind or Quebecor Inc., which is considering a national expansion of its wireless business.
Mr. Aziz also noted that Mobilicity's original equity investors recently launched a $1.2-billion lawsuit against the federal government alleging Ottawa breached promises it made when it encouraged them to invest in the wireless industry. He said he was not aware of the legal action until the statement of claim was issued by the court.
Mobilicity participated in a court-supervised mediation with Industry Canada this spring and summer, which Mr. Aziz said included numerous sessions before concluding on Sept. 14.
He said Mobilicity has taken steps to cut costs such as closing its Vancouver sales office, outsourcing some marketing functions and shutting down certain cellular sites that "were either redundant or carried very little traffic." He said shutting the cell sites down (to save money on maintenance and lease costs) will or have had little effect on customers.
He noted the carrier actually added a net 1,697 customers in August, its "best month" for customer acquisition since December, 2012, and has had higher revenue and cash-flow than previously projected.
Mr. Aziz also said Mobilicity will only offer month-to-month plans going forward. He said most of the company's customers already subscribe to such plans, also known as prepaid plans.
Mobililcity said in a previous court filing it expected to have 155,000 active subscribers and 41 full-time employees by the end of June. It did not update those numbers Thursday.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is set to hear the latest motion for an extension on Wednesday.