Quebec carrier will sell the handsets starting March 28, on expectations it will boost revenue

Quebecers are about to get a fourth carrier that sells the wildly popular Apple iPhone.

Videotron said Friday it will start selling the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C starting March 28. Customers can pre-register now for the smart phones.

Videotron is a cable and wireless provider owned by Quebecor Media, whose operations are centred on Quebec. However,  just bought spectrum in the 700 MHz range in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

As Jean-Francois Ferland, editor of our sister French-language publication Direction Informatique, notes Videotron has been able to sell only Android, BlackBerry and Windows phones since it launched wireless service in September, 2010 with an HSPA network. It is in the middle of adding a faster LTE network now.

Videotron has over 500,000 wireless subscribers, or about 10 per cent of the Quebec subscribers.

In a note to investors this morning, Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity express surprise that the Quebec carrier was able to get a deal with Apple to sell iPhones given how small a subscriber base it has.

The iPhone should boost Videotron’s wireless subscriber growth, market share and average revenue per user, Ghose wrote. Its most recently reported ARPU was $40.49, below the average of $59.40 that Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. are getting from their subscribers across the country.

While companies love hot-selling products, Ghose and others have noted that iPhones come with costs that carriers have to absorb. Ghose estimates a subsidy as much as $620 is needed for each iPhone 5 that isn’t sold at full price.

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