WIND Mobile’s parent company, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom, has been searching for a buyer since mid-March for the debt-heavy and slowly growing company. According to a report by The Globe and Mail, competition for WIND Mobile is said to be fierce: Egyptian telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris is said to be assembling a herd of creditors to make a play for the company, while Rogers is said to be considering a bid in order to get access at WIND’s valuable AWS spectrum.
Reportedly, initial bids for WIND are said to be between $500-million to $1-billion.
Fongo’s apparent offer for WIND was jokingly rebuked by WIND’s chief regulatory officer Simon Lockie, who tweeted: “I hereby publicly offer to buy Fongo for $1 and half my sandwich. Hopefully the story gets picked up before I get too hungry to deliver.”
Not knowing the joke was on them Fongo tweeted back, “we’ll consider it if the sandwich’s got Canadian bacon and Montreal smoked meat” complete with a link to its press release announcing its intentions.
Before the drama went down, Hardware Canucks had a chance to speak with Fongo’s VP Marketing, Dave Bullock (this interview was held in the hopes that Mr. Bullock would answer additional questions). Mr. Bullock spoke about his company’s plans should they have acquired WIND, which included using Fongo’s cloud-based VoIP backbone and WiFi where WIND has no footprint.
Below is the interview with Dave Bullock:
HWC: How does Fongo plan to immediately extend WIND’s service outside its current coverage area? Leasing towers from other providers? If Fongo plans to buy new towers where is the capital going to come from?
DB: Where WIND lacks a wireless presence, we’ll be able to immediately extend WiFi-offloaded functionality to Wind customers using our cloud-based VoIP platform and national calling network. That’s been the number one complaint of Wind customers in our surveying of them – the high cost of using Wind when they’re outside of the GTA or other metropolitan Wind zones.
HWC: Do the established players in the market (Bell, Telus, Rogers, etc.) create a fair or unfair wireless market? How would you view the health of the Canadian wireless market right now?
DB: Fair or unfair isn’t really the question in our eyes. It’s a question of choice. There really isn’t any in the current Canadian market. All the carriers are working from the same set of cookie cutter plans. Internationally, there’s been some really innovative and open-minded approaches to re-thinking what a modern wireless plan may look like. Fongo’s looking to bring that same mentality to the Canadian market.
HWC: How close are you to closing the deal?
DB: Deciding the future of WIND is still in the early innings. There’s still a lot of game left to play in that match. Yesterday’s announcement was really about stating Fongo’s interest and vision for what should be the future of WIND, as they represented a great option for a truly independent 4th carrier. Most importantly, there’s a lot of stakeholders left to provide input. Certainly regulators will have their say. But surprisingly, there’s very little media coverage being given to the question of what do the 700,000 customers on WIND want for their future? For the most part, they signed up for WIND because they wanted something different than the incumbents. The worst case scenario for those customers is to get folded up into something that’s just ‘more of the same’.