Bell obtains all regulatory approvals to complete MTS acquisition

Bell's purchase of MTS has been met with regulatory approval in Canada.

The new entity to be forged from the old company, to be known as Bell MTS, will launch on 17 March and has promised to immediately freeze wireless plan prices for at least 12 months.

Bell MTS has said that it plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years to enhance broadband networks and services in Manitoba. These services include the introduction of Gigabit Fibe Internet, offering access speeds up to 20 times faster than those currently available; Fibe TV, Canada's best TV service as rated by consumers nationwide; and Bell's award-winning LTE wireless network.

In an agreement entered into with the Canadian Competition Bureau and filed with the Competition Tribunal, Bell and MTS have agreed to transfer to Xplornet Communications Inc. a total of 40MHz of 700MHz, AWS-1 and 2500MHz wireless spectrum currently held by MTS, which has also been approved by ISED; 24,700 wireless customers once Xplornet launches its mobile wireless service; and five retail outlets in Winnipeg and one in Brandon.

"Bell MTS will deliver the best broadband networks and unprecedented service innovation to Manitobans, growing competition, choice and value in communications throughout the province. In addition to our capital investments to roll out our Fibe and mobile LTE services in Manitoba, Bell MTS is also announcing today that it would maintain current MTS wireless price plans for at least 12 months after the closing of the acquisition," said George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada.

Xplornet will receive transitional remedy network access from Bell MTS in urban areas of Manitoba for three years. 

In an agreement announced May 2016 and now approved by the Competition Bureau, Bell will divest to TELUS one-quarter of MTS postpaid subscribers, for total proceeds of approximately $300 million, subject to final adjustments, and 13 MTS retail locations following the completion of the Bell MTS transaction.

Bell said that it now expects to find savings of about $100 million from merger with MTS, a figure which is double the initial $50 million it forecast. The savings will come from reduced wireless roaming and network sharing, network backhaul and wholesale costs, increased wholesale revenue, and volume-based purchasing advantages.