Skip to main content

Telus store at 25 York st. in downtown Toronto. July 15, 2013.

Gloria Nieto/The Globe and Mail

Telus Corp. is eyeing a potential shut down of at least one of its legacy wireless networks over the next two years.

The Vancouver-based telecom, which is looking to rein in costs across its businesses, sees the potential to save money by decommissioning its older CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network as growing numbers of its customers upgrade to smartphones that run on its ultra-fast LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network.

It may also eventually mothball another outmoded network that supports its push-to-talk Mike service now that U.S. carrier Sprint has powered down a corresponding network south of the border.

Story continues below advertisement

"On wireless, there is good opportunity [to reduce costs]. We still run a CDMA network, we still run an IDEN network. Those will have to be shut down in time," John Gossling, Telus's chief financial officer, told a CIBC investor conference in Montreal on Wednesday.

"IDEN has been shut down now in the U.S. Sprint has done that. So, you know these things will also provide good savings on the wireless side."

Although a "relatively large piece" of Telus's more than 7 million wireless subscribers still uses old-fashioned CDMA cellphones, that number is expected to tumble fairly quickly as customers take advantage of upgrade opportunities.

"There are certain people that will just not give up what they've got. They've had it for a long time and they like it, they've got all their accessories. For whatever reason, they don't want to give up their CDMA phone," said Mr. Gossling.

"So, there will be a point where we will have to force that issue a little harder, but certainly it's declining fairly rapidly. So, it will happen in the next probably, in at least the next two years I would think."

Telus's CDMA network predates its fourth-generation wireless network, based on HSPA+ technologies, that it jointly-built with friendly rival BCE Inc. starting in 2009. The two companies have since begun rolling out a shared national LTE service that provides even fast data speeds.

Questions about the future of Telus's IDEN network, however, have been swirling for months. In late June, Sprint shut down its IDEN network after migrating its push-to-talk customers to a more modern network that offers broadband data.

Story continues below advertisement

At that time, Telus gave assurances that it would continue to offer its Mike service, but would give its customers alternative options for U.S. roaming with HSPA and LTE.

The potential decommissioning of an older network would not necessarily spell the death of its push-to-talk service. In fact, competition for push-to-talk customers -- a niche market estimated at roughly one million workers in key industries such as energy, transportation, construction, retail, agriculture and security -- is growing between Telus and BCE.

In June, BCE expanded its lineup of rugged handsets through an exclusive deal with U.S. phone maker Sonim Technologies. The Montreal-based telecom has said it is taking a deeper dive into the push-to-talk business market amid increasing demand for the niche service.

BCE owns a 15-per-cent stake in The Globe and Mail.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter