Public Mobile expects at least one of the two other new players in Canada's wireless market to run out of money by the end of the year, presenting it with a possible expansion opportunity, CEO Alek Krstajic said Thursday.
"I would love to be an acquirer," Krstajic said at a news conference in Toronto.
"I think one or more of the other new entrants runs out of money by the end of this year," Krstajic said, referring to Wind Mobile and Mobilicity and acknowledging that he has made calls to them.
Consolidation among Public Mobile, Wind Mobile and Mobilicity is possible because there are no federal rules to prevent it among the new wireless players, he said via webcast.
"Access to capital is everything," Krstajic said, adding that Public Mobile is backed by OMERS Private Equity and U.S. private equity firms.
"We have a very diverse shareholder group, so I think we're in a good position."
Public Mobile is aimed at the low end of the market, providing unlimited talk and text plans with no contracts and no credit checks.
Telecom analyst Mark Goldberg said he expects there will be "some degree" of consolidation in the wireless industry due to the "remarkable" number of wireless players in major Canadian cities.
"The question is always what happens with prices," said Goldberg of Toronto-area Goldberg & Associates Inc.
"What's most important from a consumer perspective is sustainable competition," Goldberg said.
Krstajic also said the next federal spectrum auction, expected in 2012, should be set aside just for the new wireless companies to ensure continued competition.
Rogers , Bell and Telus haven't used all of the spectrum, the radio waves over which cellphone signals travel, they bought in 2008, he said.
Public Mobile purchased its spectrum licence in July 2008 in a federal auction for $52-million and the radio spectrum it purchased isn't under any selling restrictions.
New players Wind Mobile and Mobilicity can't be acquired before 2014 by those three big players due to the type of spectrum they purchased in 2008.
Krstajic wouldn't say how many subscribers Public Mobile has after announcing Thursday that the Toronto-based company will offer e-mail plans and a voice-only plan to try to win more consumers.
Rival Wind Mobile, aiming to be Canada's fourth national carrier, said it doesn't expect to be acquired.
"We continue to be open to partnerships with the other new entrants as there is only room for one new national carrier," said Anthony Lacavera, chairman of parent company Globalive.
"Given our market leadership and financial strength, we continue to believe we are the logical consolidator of the new entrants," Lacavera said.
Lacavera said Public Mobile's low pricing won't keep them a long-term player. "Public will not last long selling below their cost and we feel this move is consistent with their business plan of selling to Globalive or one of the incumbents."