Start-up Canadian mobile operator Globalive Wireless has announced in a press release that it has been issued with wireless spectrum licences from Industry Canada, which it was provisionally awarded in the advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum auction last summer. According to the release, Globalive aims to launch ‘voice, text and data services on a next-generation GSM network in the fourth quarter of 2009’. Toronto-based Globalive invested CAD442 million (USD416 million) to win 30 spectrum licences, giving it good coverage of every province except Quebec (where it was almost completely shut out by Quebecor, parent of cableco Videotron, which bid CAD554.5 million for 17 licences). It previously revealed plans to launch commercial services in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in its first rollout phase.
Egyptian group Weather Investments/Orascom Telecom owns 65% of equity in Globalive Wireless, but its voting share is limited to 20% by Canada’s foreign ownership rules, which restrict internationally-held shares in telecoms companies to 46.7% overall; Icelandic firm Novator also owns a minority stake in the Canadian venture. If the federal government decides to lift the ownership restrictions, as a state-appointed review panel recommended last June, Orascom/Weather intends to take overall control of the cellco. The Egyptian firm was previously reported to have committed investment of USD700 million over four years in Canada. Naguib Sawiris, head of Weather and Orascom, said the country is an attractive market because of ‘muted competition’, relatively low numbers of cellular users and high wireless sector profits.