By MalwareFighter - Own work, Public Domain,

By MalwareFighter - Own work, Public Domain,


Why Bell’s Plan to Buy MTS Could Kill the Government’s Fourth Wireless Carrier Strategy

Bell announced plans this morning to buy MTS, the Manitoba-based wireless carrier that has been critical to creating a more competitive wireless market in the province. The nearly $4 billion deal would include a commitment to divest one-third of MTS wireless customers to Telus. The agreement is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals along with figuring out how some customers go to Telus and some stay with Bell. While the government has yet to articulate a clear strategy for wireless competition in Canada, the deal appears to kill the hope of four carriers in each market and will likely mean sharply increased prices for Manitoba consumers.

With the four competitors in Manitoba – Bell, Telus, Rogers, and MTS – the province features some of the lowest wireless prices in Canada. Compare Bell’s wireless pricing for consumers in Manitoba and Ontario. The cost of an unlimited nationwide calling share plan in Manitoba is $50. The same plan in Ontario is $65. The difference in data costs are even larger: Bell offers 6 GB for $20 in Manitoba. The same $20 will get you just 500 MB in Ontario. In fact, 5 GB costs $50 in Ontario, more than double the cost in Manitoba for less data. The other carriers such as Rogers and Telus also offer lower pricing in Manitoba. The reason is obvious: the presence of a fourth carrier creates more competition and lower pricing. With MTS out of the way – and Bell and Telus sharing the same wireless network – prices are bound to increase to levels more commonly found in the rest of the country.

The deal therefore represents a huge blow to the government’s hopes for a more competitive wireless marketplace. Instead, one of Canada’s lower cost provinces is likely to see increased prices and the market continues to consolidate around the big three providers. If wireless competition is a priority, the government and regulator should carefully examine the proposed transaction and consider whether it moves Canadian wireless in the wrong direction.


  1. Maybe it’s time to go back to the very basic/simple cel phone and limit access to just calls and texts, $ starting to get out of hand!

    • That’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. May as well suggest we stop texting and start mailing letters again.
      A better idea would be to nix this deal, and open the Canadian markets up to foreign telecoms, or just as well, to anyone besides the Rogers, Bell, Telus oligarchy.

    • This must be the dumbest comment of all time.

  2. Pingback: Bell to Acquire MTS; TELUS to Get Portion of Subscribers | iPhone in Canada Blog - Canada's #1 iPhone Resource

  3. Pingback: Bell buying MTS could be a sign of things to come - AlphaBeatic

  4. Dev Mehta says:

    Will the following three parties get their head out its ass:

    2.Competition Bureau
    3.People of Manitoba

    If you let Big3 to screw over Canadas’ telecom users,this will continue to happen.Remember when Verizon tries to enter Canadian market in 2013?

    • like the people of manitoba are to blame for any of this – it’s not like there was a referendum or anything privatizing MTS. You may as well say the people of every other province have their heads up their ass because they don’t set up a fourth carrier.

  5. Dr Giggles says:

    @ Dev Mehta,

    1.CRTC: This is good. Fosters competition by breaking up one company and bringing in two (Bell and Telus)

    2.Competition Bureau: This is acceptable. It increases Facilities-Based Competition as per the policy direction (of 1880-something).

    3.People of Manitoba: Sorry. They are not a “stakeholder”.

    • you can’t claim you’re “bringing in” two companies that are already part of the environment in that province.

  6. Carl Swanson says:

    Affordable and truly unlimited data was fun while it lasted. Seemed almost fair and futuristic. Manitoba doesn’t have much going for it, but this was one thing it did have.

    • and profitable for MTS. They weren’t losing money. That’s what needs to be emphasized in all this.

  7. Pingback: Stop the Cap! Bell Acquires Manitoba Telecom for $3.9 Billion; Cell Phone Rates Expected to Rise •

  8. Pingback: What would Bell’s acquisition of MTS mean for customers? - Deanetwork

  9. Pingback: Bell’s acquisition of MTS could mean better service or higher prices, analysts say | IT World Canada News

  10. Having seen a news article about Montreal Economic Institute’s “study” about how a fourth carrier doesn’t work, it does make me wonder what else made Manitoba the only place in Canada that can “free-market” itself to a 5GB $50 unlimited calling plan that no one else in the country can “sustain”.

  11. As a Manitoban who does not live in Winnipeg, I find it funny to hear of all this talk about four carriers. As far as I can tell there are only two carriers; MTS and Rogers. Even with their far superior coverage, it is easy to run into no coverage (and Rogers only has coverage because they swung a deal to share towers with MTS). Even a 15 minute drive from the third largest city in the province will turn your phone into a paperweight for want of coverage. As for the other carriers, well, they cover Winnipeg. If you never leave Winnipeg, I guess they might be an option.

    CRTC better kill this.

  12. Big fish eating little fish.

  13. It was only a matter of time before a big 3 took over mts, they didnt want to spend money on better service in manitoba, and you can barely get service from any carrier in this province for that nature, i myself live an hour outside of winnipeg and need cell boosters to get any kind of service, so as Tim said if you arent in winnipeg even in parts of winnipeg you dont get service, constant cell dropping, no services IE: high speed internet in any places other then brandon and winnipeg really, So as far as big telecom taking over MTS, well manitoba is lower because we are lagging behind the rest of canada in terms of new technologies and coverage…

  14. Pingback: The Canadian Tech Podcast Episode 70 - Sun, May 8, 2016 - Canadian Tech Podcast

  15. Pingback: Low Prices, High Profits & Substantial Investment: Why the Government Should Reject Bell’s Bid to Buy MTS | Mediamorphis

  16. Pingback: Why Bell’s Bid to Buy MTS is Bad News | Mediamorphis

  17. Pingback: Just say no to the Bell-MTS takeover | Angelus Novus

  18. Hi, I am a customer of MTS and disagree completely with allowing Bell to purchase the complete company. I feel this will make the idea of a 4th carrier unachievable in Manitoba and will just result in even higher prices for consumers. It is no secret that the competition in Manitoba among MTS, Bell, Rogers, and Telus resulted in lower prices. This is what I think should happen.

    Given that this would add investment and jobs for Manitoba in the long run, considering Bell has already promised $1 billion over 5 years, plus move 6900 jobs to Winnipeg, I don’t think there is a chance this gets blocked. However what about this?

    So, someone on reddit posted that if the CRTC actually has any balls they might let Bell actually buy all of MTS, but sell of the wireless side of the business to another bidder. Idea was that it would give Shaw, who already has a big Manitoba presence on the internet/TV side a way into the market. Shaw already owns Wind, but does not have spectrum in Manitoba, and this would be a great way for them to get some, plus get 500,000 subscribers.

    Shaw bought Wind for $1.6 billion and they got a pretty decent network in major cities across Canada, plus a million customers so good cash flow. They also have decent amount of spectrum but no 700mhz if I remember right. If they bought MTS they would have 700mhz spectrum in Manitoba, plus grow to 1.5 million customers overnight, combine the Wind/MTS networks since MTS has roaming agreements across Canada, and the result would be a viable 4th carrier in Manitoba and across more of Canada. Also, because MTS sold their internet/TV business to Bell, it would create more competition in that space for Manitobans as Bell and Shaw would have to compete with each other.


  19. Pingback: Hold the Phone: Most Manitobans disapprove of BCE-MTS merger - Angus Reid Institute

  20. Good article, it’s very helpful to all. I am very impressed about that you mentioned in this article, thanks for sharing this post. I got best useful information from your site’s blog.