Bell and MTS to expand broadband service in Northern Manitoba

  • Continuous wireless coverage along Highway 6 up to Thompson
  • Wireless, wireline broadband enhancements for 5 indigenous communities
  • Enhanced broadband service for Flin Flon

THOMPSON, MB, July 7, 2016 /CNW/ - BCE Inc. (Bell) (TSX, NYSE: BCE) and Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) (TSX: MBT) today announced extensive plans for the expansion of mobile and wireline broadband communications networks in Northern Manitoba.

Another component of the Bell MTS plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years to accelerate broadband communications services across Manitoba, this latest infrastructure project focused on Northern Manitoba will deliver:

  • Full LTE and HSPA+ wireless coverage for the Highway 6 corridor to Thompson, Manitoba's Hub of the North, significantly improving safety and connectivity along this important transportation route.
  • New wireless and wireline broadband services for 5 indigenous communities: Easterville, Gods Lake Narrows, Gods River, Grand Rapids and Red Sucker Lake.
  • Enhanced broadband service for key mining centre Flin Flon.

"The creation of Bell MTS will deliver the benefits of Bell's transformational broadband investment strategy to Manitobans throughout the province. That includes enabling small and remote communities to fully engage in the digital economy and the economic growth ahead for Manitoba," said Wade Oosterman, Bell Group President and Chief Brand Officer. "The billion-dollar Bell MTS investment plan will place Manitoba at the forefront of Canadian broadband communications with innovative new services and enhanced coverage for small communities, key traffic corridors and big cities alike."

"The Bell MTS broadband service improvements unveiled today will be the largest capital investment in wireless and wireline networks in Northern Manitoba in many years," said Pat Solman, Senior VP Network & Field Services for MTS. "This announcement is another example of how critical Bell's scale, resources and experience are to ensuring Manitobans everywhere can benefit from the economic and social opportunities offered by investment in state-of-the art broadband communications."

"The Bell MTS investment in wireless and broadband services will bring immense improvements to communication across much of northern Manitoba," said Kelly Bindle, MLA for the constituency of Thompson. "This infrastructure upgrade and network expansion are extremely important for business, social services, recreation and safety in larger centres as well as in remote communities and isolated areas throughout the region. Manitobans in all the affected areas will benefit greatly through this investment."By completing LTE and HSPA+ wireless coverage along Highway 6, Bell MTS will greatly enhance connectivity and safety along this key 860-kilometre economic corridor from the city of Thompson to the US border. This project is similar to the Bell and MTS plan announced May 20 to complete wireless coverage along busy Highway 75 in southern Manitoba between Winnipeg and the US border.

Bell MTS will also expand wireless and wireline broadband service in several remote indigenous communities in Northern Manitoba. This includes enhancements in Easterville and Grand Rapids and all-new broadband wireless for the East Lake Winnipeg communities of Gods Lake Narrows, Gods River and Red Sucker Lake.

Wireline network improvements in the city of Flin Flon, the important mining centre on Manitoba's border with Saskatchewan, will significantly boost Internet speeds from the current maximum of 5 Mbps.

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. At the same time, it also announced a 5-year, $1 billion commitment to expand broadband wireless and fibre services in Manitoba following the closing of the MTS acquisition, expected in late 2016 or early 2017.

The $1 billion Bell MTS investment plan for Manitoba includes:

  • Gigabit Fibe Internet service, with average Internet speeds up to 20 times faster than those currently offered to MTS customers.
  • Fibe TV, Bell's fast-growing broadband television service that is the North American leader in video innovation.
  • Accelerated expansion of Bell's award-winning LTE wireless network, offering average data speeds twice as fast as those currently available to MTS customers.
  • Integration of the MTS Winnipeg data centre into Bell's leading national network of data hosting and cloud centres connected by Canada's most extensive broadband fibre footprint.

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.

Bell has been the leader in building the nation's communications infrastructure for 136 years, providing Canada's most advanced wireless and wireline networks and investing more in communications services Research & Development than any other provider in the country, more than $500 million each year. Bell employs approximately 50,000 team members across every province and territory of Canada.

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.

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.

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/20160707_C1427_PHOTO_EN_729135.jpg

Image with caption: "MTS (CNW Group/Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160707_C1427_PHOTO_EN_729137.jpg

For further information: Media inquiries: Bell: Michelle Michalak, 416-215-3021, michelle.michalak@bell.ca; MTS: Jeremy Sawatzky, 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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