CANADIAN TELECOM SUMMIT Startup urges those with excess spectrum to co-operate to create another national wireless network

Wind makes appeal to Shaw, Videotron

The head of Wind Mobile has made a pitch to two of the country’s biggest cablecos to join him in his fight against the three big wireless carriers.

In a speech Wednesday to the Canadian Telecom Summit, Wind chairman Tony Lacavera said it’s time new wireless entrants co-operated “to build Canada’s third national carrier.”

Given the financial and spectrum advantages that BCE Inc’s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Communications have in the cellular business, working together is the only way to fight, he argued.

In an interview later, Lacavera said the speech was aimed at Montreal-based Quebecor, whose Videotron cable and wireless network straddle Quebec, and at Shaw Communications, which has a cable network across the West and a significant amount of wireless spectrum.

Both financially-healthy cablecos have valuable AWS spectrum bought in the 2008 auction they aren’t using – Videotron’s spectrum covers Toronto, while Shaw has decided to build a Wi-Fi network instead of a cellular network.

In the interview Lacavera explained that Industry Canada’s rules for next year’s 700 MHz spectrum auction don’t leave Wind enough opportunity to buy the spectrum he feels it needs for adding high speed LTE wireless broadband service.

As a result “we need to diversify our spectrum acquisition strategy.”

A deal with Videotron and Shaw to lease or buy their spectrum if the auction doesn’t go Wind’s way would help.

Lacavera also told the conference that after the Supreme Court refused in April to hear a challenge to the federal cabinet decision allowing Wind to go into business his company is no longer on the defensive.

“The time for wind on offence has arrived,” he declared, meaning it will be more aggressive in strategy and marketing. That includes launching service in four more cities this year and adding more distribution outlets and starting to pitch more to business customers.

This week Wind will announce roaming charges for subscribers travelling to Europe will be cut to 20 cents a minute.

Wind has more than 430,000 subscribers now. Since last year the carrier has been shifting from post-paid to pre-paid plans, where subscribers pay in advance for monthly service.

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