Bell Canada acquires MTS and pledges $1bn infrastructure investment

Bell Canada has announced the pending acquisition of regional player Manitoba telecom Services (MTS) for $3bn.

The acquisition will see Bell enhance its presence in Western Canada by purchasing MTS’s 1 million customers as well as its fixed and wireless infrastructure. MTS currently provides fibre optic fixed internet access as well as LTE mobile broadband, and Bell plans to invest $1bn in capital over five years to improve the existing service being provided in the area.

Bell’s plans for upgrading existing infrastructure include the rollout of gigabit fibre across the region, which it claims will deliver 20 times faster download and upload speeds within 12 months of closing the deal. It also plans to roll out its broadband-based television service “Fibe TV”, as well as the growth of its 4G LTE network infrastructure, claiming it will deliver twice as fast speeds to existing MTS customers.

To placate regulatory bodies in a bid to get approval for the deal, Bell has also confirmed it will be trading off a third of the MTS wireless customer-base to Telus, one of its primary nationwide competitors. That agreement is also subject to regulatory approval, but the concession will likely demonstrate a lack of anti-competitive behaviour as a result of the acquisition. Bell Canada’s CEO, George Cope, says the operator sees great opportunity for growth in the region and the move represents a strategic win for Bell over its competitors.

“Welcoming MTS to the Bell group of companies opens new opportunities for unprecedented broadband communications investment, innovation and growth for urban and rural Manitoba locations alike,” he said. “Bell is excited to be part of the clear growth opportunities in Manitoba, and we plan to contribute new communications infrastructure and technologies that deliver the latest wireless, Internet, TV and media services to residents and businesses throughout the province.”

The new brand, Bell MTS, will see the original MTS brand retained, while the MTS headquarters in Winnipeg will become Bell’s regional HQ for Western Canada.

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