Allstream, which provides telecommunications solutions for businesses, is expanding its downtown Montreal presence to create a national technical support centre of excellence.
The Winnipeg-based carrier, part of Manitoba Telecom Services, said Tuesday the centre will add 50 technical and sales staff to the existing 260 employees to offer a range of services to callers.
“It becomes a national point of contact for our technical support,” Edith Cloutier, national vice-president of sales, said in an interview from Allstream’s Toronto headquarters.
There were pieces of technical support, provisioning and sales in Montreal until now, she said. Creating a centre of excellence integrates a lot of these services in one place.
With centralized technical expertise, better response times and a fully bilingual staff there will be a better service for customers, she said.
In explaining the expansion Cloutier noted Allstream is smaller than competitors such as BCE Inc,’s Bell Canada and Telus Corp., “but we want to make sure we are very agile and responsive.”
The Montreal expansion comes after the federal government last October turned down MTS’s attempt to sell the Allstream division to Accelero.
Allstream used to be the Canadian division of U.S. telecom giant AT&T. MTS paid $1.7 billion for it in 2004. It didn’t perform to MTS’ expectations, although last month it announced it had connected more than 3,000 buildings to Allstream’s 30,000+ km nationwide fibre-optic IP network. In 2010 there were 2,000 buildings connected to the network.
In its latest quarterly results, issued Nov. 7, MTS [TSX: MBT] said it had consolidated revenue of just over $408 million, down 3.7 per cent from the same period in 2012. That was mostly due to declines in sales of legacy telecom products at Allstream. The Allstream division itself had revenes for the quarter of just over $164 million, compared to $182 million for the same period the year before. The company blamed the drop in part on “the negative impact of a prolonged regulatory process and the rejection of the proposed (Accelero) sale.”
Aside from that it scored a gross margin of 63.2 per cent for the quarter, up from 58.6 per cent in the same period in 2012.
Allstream said it has strong relationships with Quebec local technical colleges and has helped shape their post-secondary programs to ensure the curriculum reflects the needs and technologies in the telecommunications industry.
The technical support centre will benefit from having a supply of skilled employees from these programs who have been trained to meet the specific needs of Allstream’s business and expectations of its customers, the company said in a statement.
(Editor’s note: The day after this story ran MTS released its fourth quarter results. For the period ending Dec. 31, 2013 it had revenue of $166 million, down 6.7 per cent over the same period in 2012. This was in part due to a $15 million one-time charge.
Revenue from unified communications hosting and security services was up 5.8 per cent, but down 19 per cent from long distance and legacy data services.)