Telus launches PCS and Mike nets into Winnipeg

Further expanding its digital wireless network coverage across Canada, Telus Mobility in August launched two networks in Winnipeg.

Both the Telus Mobility PCS and Mike networks are now available to business and commercial customers in Winnipeg, completing the first phase of Telus’s Manitoba rollout plan. Phase two of the expansion will see the digital network expanded to the cities of Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Stonewall, Selkirk and Steinbach, as well as the highways connecting the cities.

According to Wade Oosterman, executive vice-president of sales and marketing of Telus Mobility in Toronto, the company has had a presence in Manitoba through a reseller agreement with Winnipeg-based Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS), but now Telus has migrated its services to its own networks.

As a Western Canadian wireless company, Telus expanded into Central Canada last year when it acquired Toronto-based Clearnet.

“When the two companies merged, we looked at what are the large markets that we don’t have a strong presence in or our own infrastructure up and running yet, and Winnipeg was at the top of the list. So one of our priorities. . .was to launch into the Winnipeg market,” Oosterman said.

He added that this is the first time Telus has launched both its PCS and Mike networks at the same time in any city. Typically, Telus only has the resources to launch one at a time, but far greater resources have been available since the acquisition, he said.

Telus has tough competition in the Winnipeg market, Oosterman said. Rogers AT&T Wireless and MTS already have strong presences in Winnipeg, and Fido has also launched its wireless network. That means there are four wireless companies serving a city with a population of 650,000.

“It’s interesting when you look at growth in Canada. Wireless as a whole really started to take off significantly when we had a four-player market, and so that’s now the environment in Winnipeg, and I think we’ll see penetration there increase from this point forward,” Oosterman said.

According to Jeremy Depow, a senior analyst at Kanata, Ont.-based The Yankee Group in Canada, the wireless landscape in Canada is changing as Telus pushes towards the east and Bell Mobility pushes west.

“It makes sense to enter those major markets in between and certainly Winnipeg offers a lot [of opportunity],” Depow said. “It’s an area where they weren’t exposed to the service of the Mike network. There’s certainly a benefit for Telus to go into that area because they can offer a business that no other mobile companies in Canada can: that two-way ESMR (enhanced specialized mobile radio) network.”

Depow added that the ESMR Mike network will attract the business users in Winnipeg because it offers a tremendous benefit to corporate customers. According to Oosterman, businesses are attracted to the fast direct connection available with the Mike network.

“On the competitive side, I think there’s probably a little bit of potential to drive down prices in that area, giving everyone else a run for their money,” Depow said. “I’m sure there will be new offerings from other carriers as well, as competition intensifies in that local market.”

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