Bell today announced the acquisition of Distributel, one of Canada’s largest independent network service providers.
The deal is undergoing regulatory review. Details of the transaction, including the closing date and financial information, were not disclosed.
According to the press release, Distributel will continue to operate independently upon transaction close, under the leadership of current chief executive officer Matt Stein.
As a major independent communications service provider for telephone and internet services, Distributel has long championed competition in Canada’s telecommunications market. In addition to being Distributel’s CEO, in 2018 Matt Stein was elected as the chairman and president of the Competitive Network Operators of Canada (CNOC), a telecommunication competition advocacy group formed by Canada’s independent network operators.
“With this announcement, Distributel is better positioned to compete and deliver on our decades-long commitment to bringing choice and affordability to Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” said Stein in the press release. “We hope Canadians are as excited as we are about the many benefits that will result from this partnership. Our teams remain focused on serving our customers with excellence across all our brands as we leverage Bell’s resources to expand and enhance our product offerings.”
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this is a lessening of competition,” said Peter Nowak, vice-president of insight and engagement at Teksavvy, an eastern Canada independent network service provider, in an interview with IT World Canada. “Distributel was, in my understanding, particularly big on services for businesses. So businesses are just going to have one less choice to choose from for their telecom services.”
“They’re talking to Matt Stein, and he’s saying, ‘Oh, this is you know, just gonna be business as usual.’ That’s impossible. They’re now owned by Bell. It’s not going to be business as usual and the way these things usually go is these acquisitions [acquired companies] inevitably get shut down after a certain period of time,” said Nowak.
The publication has reached out to Distributel, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and CNOC for comments and will update the article if it receives a reply.