New entrants should ‘check their egos,’ says Public Mobile CEO

The new entrants to Canada’s wireless carrier industry have held conversations about possible mergers, according to Public Mobile CEO Alex Krstajic.

Those talks have always fallen apart in the end, though, he says. Public Mobile is one of the new players that acquired wireless spectrum in a 2008 auction held by Industry Canada. Other new entrants include Mobilicity and Wind Mobile. Krstajic says his firm is in a position to be an acquirer.

“If there is a consolidation, we’re at a point now, very clearly, we are buyers not sellers,” he says. “Some of these boys have to check their egos at the door, sit down and have a real conversation.”

Krstajic made comments on his competition earlier this week in Toronto at the launch of Public Mobile’s new unlimited music download service, Siren.

Public Mobile opted to buy less expensive PCS spectrum in the 2008 auction. That allowed it to deploy a network in Toronto and Montreal for relatively less money than competitors who bought a more widely used spectrum. But it also limited the devices available to Public Mobile, who offer Android smartphones and traditional cell phones manufactured by Chinese-based ZTE.

Other new entrants are focusing on rapid subscriber growth, Krstajic says, while Public Mobile is working towards becoming profitable more quickly. Having more than a million subscribers and going bankrupt “is not the definition of winning,” he said.

Wind Mobile has acquired the most subscribers of any of the new entrants. It has recently launched a 4G HSPA+ network, and has built its own network in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and elsewhere in Ontario. Mobilicity has built out its network in Toronto and Ottawa.

This isn’t the first time Krstajic has expressed interest in acquiring one of his competitors. In March, 2011 he predicted that one of the new entrants would run out of money by year’s end. He pointed to Public Mobile’s financial backers in OMERS Private Equity and U.S.-based investors.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at ITBusiness.ca. E-mail him at bjackson@itbusiness.ca, follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.
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