Bell and MTS to complete wireless coverage on Manitoba Highway 75

  • New cell sites and fibre links to support broadband LTE and HSPA+ mobile services
  • Continuous high-speed wireless coverage from Winnipeg to the U.S. border

MORRIS, MB, May 20, 2016 /CNW/ - BCE Inc. (Bell) (TSX, NYSE: BCE) and Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) (TSX: MBT) today announced plans to ensure continuous broadband wireless coverage along Highway 75, Manitoba's main transportation corridor linking Winnipeg with the United States border at Emerson.

"Bell MTS will hit the ground running in Manitoba with major new investments in broadband communications, including the completion of full wireless coverage along this critical transportation route," said Wade Oosterman, Group President of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada responsible for all Bell wireless, residential and media services. "The gaps in coverage along this high-traffic corridor have been a concern to residents, businesses and travellers of all kinds. Building better communications networks is what Bell does best, and we're proud to announce this investment to extend our award-winning mobile technology on Manitoba's Highway 75."

An important enabler of economic development in the province, Highway 75 is Manitoba's most important north-south link, and the border crossing at Emerson and Pembina, North Dakota is one of the busiest in Western Canada. Residents and travelers along this route currently experience limited coverage along 3 stretches of Highway 75: between Ste. Agathe and Morris, between Morris and Highway 14, and between Highway 201 and Emerson.

Three major new Bell MTS wireless cell sites linked by broadband fibre will close these gaps to ensure continuous 4G LTE and HSPA+ coverage all along the highway. Bell's LTE wireless network is ranked by multiple independent analysts as Canada's fastest, with average data speeds double those now available to MTS customers.

"The Bell MTS commitment to improving Highway 75 wireless coverage will enhance the safety and efficiency of a strategic trade and travel artery that is a vital component of Manitoba's trade and transportation network," said the Honourable Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba. "Investment in world-class communications services is critical to Manitoba's ability to compete and prosper in the national and global economies and we applaud today's commitment to improved communications services."

Unprecedented broadband investment for Manitoba
Bell announced a 5-year, $1 billion commitment to expand broadband wireless and fibre communications services in Manitoba following the closing of its acquisition of MTS. Announced May 2, the transaction is valued at approximately $3.9 billion and expected to close in late 2016 or early 2017. The combined company's Manitoba operations will be known as Bell MTS and Winnipeg becomes headquarters for Bell's Western Canada team, which grows to 6,900 people with the addition of MTS's 2,700 employees.

"Completing wireless coverage along Highway 75 is a clear example of the benefits that come from Bell's scale and resources, and from the company's proven expertise in deploying outstanding broadband wireless networks across the country," said Jay Forbes, President and CEO of MTS. "Bell MTS will be positioned going forward to deliver communications innovation to more Manitobans in more communities across the province."

"The Association of Manitoba Municipalities is very pleased to see the expansion of wireless coverage along the vital Highway 75 corridor," said Chris Goertzen, Mayor of Steinbach and President of AMM. "For municipalities, improved cell service assists first responders with essential communication during emergency situations, and fosters economic growth in communities across the province. AMM and MTS have worked together successfully to expand wireless services across Manitoba, and we look forward to future investments in the advanced networks essential to the economic development and safety of Manitoba communities."

Canada's leader in wireless innovation
Bell has earned a longstanding reputation as the builder of Canada's most advanced wireless and wireline network infrastructure, and the country's key developer of communications service innovations. Bell's investment in Research & Development is by far the highest in the telecom industry – more than $500 million in Canadian R&D each year – and Bell operates wireless innovation centres in Dorval, QC, Toronto and Mississauga, ON.

Bell is committed to leading the rollout of world-class broadband wireless capability to more small communities and rural areas in Manitoba and across Canada. In 2011, Bell became the first carrier in Canada to offer LTE data speeds in Toronto and surrounding high tech innovation centres. Today, Bell offers LTE network coverage to more than 98% of the Canadian population. In 2015, Bell was first in Canada to launch the next generation of mobile LTE, Dual-band LTE Advanced (LTE-A), which is on track to reach 75% of Canadians this year. Later in 2015, Bell was also first in all of North America to deliver Tri-band LTE-A technology, with initial service availability in Halifax, Hamilton, Oakville and Toronto.

With speeds up to 260 Mbps (typical average 18-74 Mbps) for Dual-band and up to 335 Mbps (typical 25-100 Mbps) for Tri-band, LTE-A supports seamless HD video streaming, videoconferencing and complex business tools with virtually no wait time.

In addition to significant growth in wireless coverage, speed and service innovation, Bell's 5-year, $1 billion capital investment plan for Manitoba includes:

  • Gigabit Fibe Internet service, which delivers Internet speeds on average up to 20 times faster than those currently offered to MTS customers
  • Fibe TV, Bell's innovative and fast-growing broadband television service
  • integration of the MTS Winnipeg data centre into Bell's leading national network of 27 data and cloud computing centres and connection to the country's most extensive broadband fibre network footprint.

Caution concerning forward-looking statements
Certain statements made in this news release are forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements relating to the proposed acquisition by BCE Inc. ("BCE") of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. ("MTS"), the expected timing of, and certain strategic, operational and financial benefits expected to result from, the proposed transaction, our network deployment and capital investment plans in Manitoba, our business outlook, objectives, plans and strategic priorities, 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 proposed transaction referred to above 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.

The completion and timing of the proposed transaction are subject to customary closing conditions, termination rights and other risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, court, shareholder and regulatory approvals, including approval by the Competition Bureau, the CRTC, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, as well as the TSX and NYSE. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the proposed transaction will occur, or that it will occur on the terms and conditions, or at the time, contemplated in this news release. The proposed transaction 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.

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 investment plans, please consult BCE's 2015 Annual MD&A dated March 3, 2016 (included in the BCE 2015 Annual Report) and BCE's 2016 First Quarter MD&A dated April 27, 2016, 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.

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. You can count on MTS to make connecting your world easy. We're with you.

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 Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

Image with caption: "Bell (CNW Group/Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160520_C6246_PHOTO_EN_695709.jpg

Image with caption: "MTS (CNW Group/Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160520_C6246_PHOTO_EN_695707.jpg

For further information: Media inquiries: Bell Mobility: Jason Laszlo, 905-614-6602, jason.laszlo@bell.ca; MTS: Greg Burch, 204-250-9244, 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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