Bell and MTS bringing the power of the Fibe network to Churchill, Manitoba

  • Fibre deployment to Churchill homes and businesses to deliver Gigabit Internet speeds, Canada's best TV service
  • The fastest broadband access to the latest online services for residents, support for tourism, business innovation and economic growth in the Polar Bear Capital of the World

 

CHURCHILL, MB, Aug. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - BCE Inc. (Bell) (TSX, NYSE: BCE) and Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) (TSX: MBT) today announced plans to expand broadband communications infrastructure in the town of Churchill, including the introduction of next-generation Gigabit Fibe Internet and Fibe TV services.

Part of the Bell MTS plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years to accelerate fibre and wireless broadband communications services in Manitoba, the Churchill infrastructure project will greatly enhance connectivity in the community and support innovation and economic development, including in the region's growing international tourism industry with high-speed connections for Churchill resorts, hotels and lodges.

Located at the edge of the Arctic on Hudson's Bay, Churchill is a northern transportation hub also known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, attracting thousands of tourists from around the world each year for polar bear, beluga whale and bird watching and as one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights.

"The upgrade to world-class broadband services will be a welcome and much needed addition to our community," said Michael Spence, Mayor of Churchill. "This innovative and critical piece of infrastructure will greatly enhance tourism, support regional health care, and provide additional supports for our young people through education and expanded research. In addition, the upgraded technology will support future opportunities for Canada's only Arctic Seaport."

"Bell MTS is proud to contribute to the Churchill community. We plan to deliver world-class communications services throughout Manitoba, from more remote communities like Churchill to the largest urban centres, all of which will benefit from the social, economic and innovation opportunities enabled by advanced broadband networks like Fibe and mobile LTE," said Wade Oosterman, Bell's Group President and Chief Brand Officer.

"Broadband communications infrastructure plays a vital role in attracting new businesses, residents and visitors by supporting enhanced connectivity, security and development opportunities for everyone in the community. This Bell MTS service expansion will help bring the world to Churchill, and Churchill to the world," said Patricia Solman, Senior Vice President, Network and Field Services for MTS.

"Our government welcomes investments that will enhance the safety and efficiency of trade, travel and tourism opportunities for our province," said Minister Cullen, Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade. "We are optimistic that today's commitment by Bell MTS will provide new opportunities for the diversification of business opportunities throughout the region."

"Today`s announcement is a positive step forward for rural Manitoba," said Chuck Davidson, President, and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. "Improved broadband is an issue facing too many rural communities in our province. Providing rural businesses with the tools to be competitive will help them grow their business and open up new opportunities. Bell MTS understands the importance of connecting people and is taking an important step towards addressing rural concerns."

"This is an exciting development for Churchill," said Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba. "Visitors from our international markets are looking for the kind of 'bucket list' experiences that Churchill has to offer. World-class communications go hand in hand with world-class tourism products."

Bell MTS: Better together, better for Manitobans
On May 2, Bell announced the acquisition of MTS in a transaction valued at approximately $3.9 billion as well as a 5-year, $1 billion commitment to expand broadband fibre and wireless communications services in Manitoba following the closing of the transaction, expected in late 2016 or early 2017. The Bell MTS investment plan includes the rollout of:

  • Gigabit Fibe Internet service, with average Internet speeds up to 20 times faster than those currently offered to MTS customers.
  • Fibe TV, the broadband television service renowned for its content and service innovation and ranked by consumers as the best television service in Canada.
  • Bell's award-winning LTE wireless network, offering average data speeds twice as fast as those currently available to MTS customers.

In addition to the Churchill service expansion announced here today, Bell and MTS have also announced plans for continuous broadband wireless coverage along Highway 75 in southern Manitoba and the expansion of mobile and wireline broadband networks in northern Manitoba, including along Highway 6 to Thompson, in Flin Flon and in 5 small indigenous communities.

Following Bell's acquisition of MTS, the combined company's Manitoba operations will be known as Bell MTS. Winnipeg will become headquarters for Bell's entire Western Canada team, which will grow to 6,900 people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia with the addition of MTS's 2,700 Manitoba employees.

Caution concerning forward-looking statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements and information (collectively, the "forward-looking statements") including, but not limited to those relating to a statutory plan of arrangement under section 185 of The Corporations Act (Manitoba), pursuant to which, among other things, BCE intends to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of MTS (the Arrangement), the expected timing of, and certain strategic, operational and financial benefits expected to result from, the Arrangement, our network deployment and capital investment plans in Manitoba, our business outlook, objectives, plans and strategic priorities, information concerning MTS and BCE, and other statements that are not historical facts.

Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the words assumption, goal, guidance, objective, outlook, project, strategy, target and other similar expressions or future or conditional verbs such as aim, anticipate, believe, could, expect, intend, may, plan, seek, should, strive and will. All such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the "safe harbour" provisions of applicable Canadian securities laws and of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Forward-looking statements, by their very nature, are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties and are based on several assumptions, both general and specific, which give rise to the possibility that actual results or events could differ materially from our expectations expressed in or implied by such forward-looking statements. As a result, we cannot guarantee that any forward-looking statement will materialize and we caution you against relying on any of these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our expectations at the date of this news release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as may be required by Canadian securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this news release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Forward-looking statements are provided herein for the purpose of giving information about the Arrangement and its expected impact, including our network deployment and capital investment plans in Manitoba. Readers are cautioned that such information may not be appropriate for other purposes.

Completion and timing of the Arrangement are subject to a number of conditions precedent and termination rights, some of which are outside MTS' and BCE's control, including, without limitation, receipt of the required regulatory approvals, the operation and performance of the MTS business in the ordinary course until closing of the Arrangement, the absence of a material adverse effect, including no award being in force, which would result in a material adverse effect and no action being pending or threatened (other than frivolous or vexatious actions) against or involving MTS or its subsidiaries that, if decided against MTS or its subsidiaries, would result in a material adverse effect, and compliance by MTS with various other covenants contained in the arrangement agreement between MTS and BCE dated May 1, 2016, all of which are subject to important risks, uncertainties and assumptions. There can be no certainty, nor can MTS or BCE provide any assurance, that all conditions precedent to the Arrangement will be satisfied or waived and that the Arrangement will occur, or, if satisfied or waived, when they will be satisfied or waived. If the Arrangement is not completed, the market price of MTS' common shares may be materially adversely affected. Moreover, a substantial delay in obtaining the required regulatory approvals or the presence of an award or action that would result in a material adverse effect could result in a prolonged extension of the outside closing date. The Arrangement could be modified, restructured or terminated. There can also be no assurance that the strategic, operational or financial benefits expected to result from the proposed transaction, as well as our network deployment and capital investment plans in Manitoba, will be realized. The nature and value of capital investments planned to be made in Manitoba over 5 years assume completion of the Arrangement as well as our ability to access or generate the necessary sources of capital. However, there can be no assurance that the Arrangement will be completed or that the required sources of capital will be available with the result that the actual capital investments made by us in Manitoba during such period could materially differ from current expectations.

For additional information on assumptions and risks underlying certain forward-looking statements made in this news release relating, in particular, to our network deployment and capital investment plans, please consult BCE's 2015 Annual MD&A dated March 3, 2016 (included in the BCE 2015 Annual Report) as updated in BCE's 2016 First and Second Quarter MD&As dated April 27, 2016 and August 3, 2016, respectively, filed by BCE with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities (available at Sedar.com) and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (available at SEC.gov). These documents are also available at BCE.ca. Additional information is also available in the Risks and uncertainties section of MTS's 2015 annual MD&A and MD&A for Q1 and Q2 of 2016, each of which are available at www.mts.ca/aboutus and on Sedar.com.

About MTS
At MTS, we're proud to be Manitoba's leading information and communications technology provider. We're dedicated to delivering a full suite of services for Manitobans – Internet, Wireless, TV, Phone Service and Security Systems plus a full suite of Information Solutions, including Unified Cloud and Managed Services.

We live where we work and actively give back to organizations that strengthen our communities. Through MTS Future First, we provide sponsorships, grants and scholarships, value-in-kind support and volunteer commitment in Manitoba.

MTS Inc. is wholly owned by Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (TSX: MBT). For more on MTS' products and services, visit mts.ca. For investor information, visit mts.ca/aboutus.

About Bell
Canada's largest communications company, Bell provides consumer, business and government customers with a comprehensive and innovative suite of broadband wireless, TV, Internet and business communication services from Bell Canada and Bell Aliant. Bell Media is Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio, out of home and digital media. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). To learn more, please visit BCE.ca or Bell.ca.

The Bell Let's Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let's Talk Day and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

SOURCE MTS

Image with caption: "Bell (CNW Group/MTS)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160829_C1970_PHOTO_EN_761424.jpg

Image with caption: "MTS (CNW Group/MTS)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160829_C1970_PHOTO_EN_761425.jpg

For further information: Media inquiries: Bell: Michelle Michalak, 416-215-3021, michelle.michalak@bell.ca; MTS: Greg Burch, 204-958-3230, media.relations@mts.ca; Investor inquiries: BCE: Thane Fotopoulos, 514-870-4619, thane.fotopoulos@bell.ca; MTS: Brenda McInnes, 204-941-6205, investor.relations@mts.ca

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