While U.S. cable operators including Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) are dipping their toes ever so gently into the turbulent waters of the wireless business, Canada's Shaw Communications is all in, announcing a $1.6 billion purchase of Wind Mobile.
The Calgary-based MSO said it will acquire Canada's fourth largest mobile operator, pending approval by the Competition Bureau, along with the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and other regulators. Shaw expects the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2016.
Shaw serves 3.2 million residential customers and businesses and posted nearly $4 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31. The move comes with Shaw's principal competitors in the Canadian telecom business, Rogers Communications and Telus, already bundling wireless service with TV video, Internet and home landline products.
"The global telecom landscape is quickly evolving towards 'mobile-first' product offerings as consumers demand ubiquitous connectivity from their service providers," said Shaw CEO Brad Shaw in a statement. "The acquisition of Wind provides Shaw with a unique platform in the wireless sector which will allow us to offer a converged network solution to our customers that leverages our full portfolio of best-in-class telecom services, including fibre, cable, WiFi, and now wireless,"
Wind serves 940,000 subscribers and operates an urban-centric network in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. It has grown its customer base by 47 percent over the last two years, Shaw said, and is scheduled to deploy LTE services by 2017.
Wind is Canada's largest non-incumbent mobile carrier. It is, however, much smaller than Canada's three largest carriers, Rogers Communications, Telus and BCE.
"This transaction represents a transformational step in the history of Shaw and we are excited about our future growth prospects in mobile. This growth will be accelerated by combining Shaw's existing customer relationships, trusted brand and wireline and WiFi infrastructure with Wind's impressive asset base, including its existing spectrum position and mobile network."
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