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Telus extends Ontario capital spending plan

By: David Paddon, The Canadian Press

 | May 22, 2014 - 2:33 PM |
TORONTO - Telus Corp. says it will spend $500 million in Ontario this year as it wraps up a three-year infrastructure plan that was first announced in 2012 and will invest a further $600 million in the province throughout 2015 and 2016, bringing the total commitment by the telecom company over the next three years to $1.1 billion.

Telus (TSX:T) will use the money for a variety of projects, including an extension of its fastest wireless network to more Ontario communities.

Among other things, the Vancouver-based company offers the Telus and Koodo cellphone and smartphone services, competing nationally against BCE's Bell Canada (TSX:BCE), Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B), privately held Wind Mobile as well as regionally against several other companies.

Telus said Wednesday that its most advanced wireless network, using LTE technology, is currently available to at least 85 per cent of Ontario's population but that it will use spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency, recently acquired through an auction by the federal government, to enhance its network speeds and coverage across the province.

The company recently acquired Public Mobile, a small Ontario regional player with only 260,000 customers, and announced previously that it plans to upgrade the smaller firm's technology. Telus has also attempted to acquire Mobilicity, another small Ontario competitor, but has encountered resistance from the federal government.

The Globe and Mail's online edition reported Wednesday that Telus has notified Mobilicity that it was withdrawing its latest offer, which has been the subject of a mediated negotiation involving the companies and Industry Canada, although none of the parties involved in the talks would comment on the article.

Mobilicity's spokesman said in a phone interview that he could neither confirm nor deny the report but read a prepared statement that said: "The mediation is ongoing and scheduled to continue next week. It continues to be business as usual for Mobilicity's customers and we'll continue to provide updates."

Telus spokesman Shawn Hall and the office of Industry Minister James Moore said they had no comment.

Besides being a major player in wireless, Telus is also Western Canada's largest provider of conventional residential phone service, mainly in Alberta and British Columbia, and a national player in a number of services for businesses and public-sector organizations.

Telus says it will some of the money to be spent in 2015 and 2016 will be used to expand its healthcare business, which provides physicians with electronic medical records for their patients, and to extend its fibre optics networks serving the businesses, government and other public-sector organizations.

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