Samsung signs its first Canadian telecom equipment deal with Quebecor's Videotron

MONTREAL — Samsung Electronics has made a first step into Canada's telecommunications infrastructure market with a deal to supply equipment for Videotron's wireless network in the province of Quebec and the Ottawa region of Ontario.

Videotron operates one of Canada's four major regional wireless businesses in competition against the three big national carriers — Rogers, Bell and Telus — which have each spent billions in recent years to upgrade their networks.

Neither Videotron nor Samsung is disclosing financial terms of their agreement, announced Friday, but both said it's the beginning of a long-term relationship that has the potential to grow over time.

"This partnership will be marked as a significant milestone for Samsung and it will be remembered as our first win in the Canadian market," said Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, Samsung's executive vice-president for networks.

"Samsung and Videotron will continue to join forces to usher in the 5G era for enhanced communications, and push towards a proliferation of a next generation of wireless networks."

The South Korean electronics and consumer goods giant makes a wide range of products and components — from electronic chips to smartphones to household appliances — that are connected by ultra-fast wireless networks.

Samsung will initially supply radio units for Videotron cellphone towers but hopes to eventually be chosen to supply Videotron with core network equipment and artificial intelligence enhanced analytics.

Videotron chief executive Jean François Pruneau said in Friday's announcement said it wants the best supplier to meet the evolving needs of its customers.

"While 4G technology has profoundly transformed telecommunications in the world, LTE Advanced and 5G will undoubtedly revolutionize the way we interact with our loved ones and the environment around us."

"We want to be with our customers through these major changes and Samsung's choice as a supplier is not a coincidence, we are convinced that they represent the best option to achieve this objective."

Stephen Wiktorski, head of networks for Samsung Canada, said in an interview that it has been preparing for more than an year to compete in Canada, where Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia are the major suppliers for wireless networks.

He said one of Samsung's advantages over other equipment makers is the range of its product lineup in a world where the Internet of Things is expanding and spreading everywhere.

"Everything that we see around us is going to be connected, and the data it kicks out is going to be sent to networks and decisions will be made based on that data," Wiktorski said.

"Your refrigerator will have cameras and sensors, your TVs will have cameras — in fact they do. Samsung has said that by 2020, everything that we manufacture will be connected and, indeed, we're ahead of the curve on that."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2019.

Companies in this story: (TSX:QBR.B, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:BCE, TSX:T)

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