Quebecor invests big in mobile gambit

CEO calls the move a 'watershed event'

TORONTO -- Quebec TV giant Quebecor Media will spend CAN$800 million ($665.5 million) to get into the provincial mobile phone market by the end of 2009.

Montreal-based Quebecor, which operates Quebec cabler Groupe Videotron, said Wednesday that it will build a high-speed wireless phone network to enable subscriber use of cell phones and 3G devices including Apple's iPhone and the BlackBerry.

Quebecor joins mobile giants Telus and Bell Canada, which also have plans to build 3G networks as a way of clawing back market share from Rogers Communications, Canada's largest mobile phone and cable provider.

"This project is of more than technical interest; it is a watershed event in the history of Quebecor Media and Videotron," Quebecor Media CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau said Wednesday.

In addition to Groupe Videotron, Quebecor Media also owns and operates Quebec's largest private broadcaster, the TVA Group, the SunTV channel in Toronto and a string of newspapers and magazines.

Quebecor Media's jump into the mobile market follows a recent wireless spectrum auction by the federal government in which the Quebec media company was a major buyer.