Freedom Mobile under Videotron will be an effective competitor, the court hears


A wireless communications expert said Freedom Mobile of Videotron Ltd. will be a strong competitor in the telecommunications market when the hearing on the proposed acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc. $26 billion worth of Rogers Communications Inc. still continue.

William Webb, chief technology officer at the Access Partnership and a Shaw witness, told the Competition Court on Monday that Freedom, owned by Quebecor Inc. Videotron won’t lack access to the assets or services it needs to be an effective wireless competitor like Freedom according to Shaw.

Webb also said that Freedom’s cost to develop a 5G network under Videotron’s ownership would be significantly reduced.

Freedom does not offer 5G connectivity and does not own 3500 MHz. 3500 MHz is the spectrum that has become key to 5G innovation.

Webb says Freedom and Videotron’s combined spectrum will enable immediate 5G deployment.

Videotron acquired 3500 MHz spectrum in the summer of 2021, centered in southern and eastern Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. Freedom provides services in much of Ontario and Western Canada.

Shaw and Rogers attempted to demonstrate during the hearing that the proposed sale of Freedom to Videotron would be a positive for consumers.

Quebecor agreed to buy Freedom in a $2.85 billion deal earlier this year.

The sale of Freedom to Videotron will enable Quebecor to purchase all Freedom-branded wireless and internet customers as well as all of Freedom’s infrastructure, spectrum, and retail locations in a move to expand operations. Quebecor wireless nationwide.

The proposed sale is part of Rogers’ strategy to strike a broader deal over the finish line.

The hearing before the Competition Court is scheduled to last until mid-December and is aimed at resolving the impasse between the Competition Commissioner, who wants to block the deal, and Rogers and Shaw.

The Competition Bureau is one of three regulators that must approve the deal, alongside CRTC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Rogers wants to close the Shaw deal by the end of the year, with the possibility of an extension until January 31, 2023.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 28, 2022.

CTV News is a division of Bell Media, part of BCE Inc.

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