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Xplornet buying YourLink

Rural broadband provider picks up Saskatchewan firm

A YourLink tower outside Weyburn, Sask. (YourLink.ca)

One of Canada’s biggest providers of rural broadband is set to expand its space in the Saskatchewan market by buying rural high-speed wireless provider YourLink.

New Brunswick-based Xplornet Communications on Monday announced an all-cash $28.75 million deal with Victoria-based Vecima Networks for the “remaining assets” of Vecima’s YourLink business.

YourLink, based in Saskatoon, is a major wireless service provider for rural Saskatchewan, offering fixed broadband wireless data and telephone access for residential and business users.

The company in mid-2015 announced major expansions and upgrades of its Saskatchewan network, for which it picked up $4.63 million in federal funding. Those expansions are expected to connect over 40,000 additional homes by the end of April next year, at a minimum speed of five MB per second.

YourLink, Xplornet said, “will continue to operate and deliver its high-quality services in Saskatchewan while integrating operations into Xplornet regional and national delivery teams.”

The deal involves a payment of $20 million, made Thursday, with the $8.75 million balance to follow before the end of the second calendar quarter of 2017, Vecima said.

The deal is subject to the usual closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including transfer of radio spectrum licenses, Vecima said.

Vecima CEO Sumit Kumar said Monday the company’s “strategic priority” in the past five years has been to “monetize non-core assets and focus on our core technology business.”

Vecima, which makes broadband hardware mainly for the business services market, in the past five years has also shed its BC Cable business and “excess” radio spectrum and real estate, including a former manufacturing facility in Saskatoon.

“We are confident that our vision to extend the reach of broadband to more people in Saskatchewan will now be pursued by a highly focused national broadband service provider that is dedicated to building a stronger, more connected digital Canada.”

The deal “will increase our fixed wireless broadband footprint in Saskatchewan and support Xplornet’s mission to make affordable, fast and reliable broadband Internet services available to rural Canadians,” Xplornet CEO Allison Lenehan said in a release.

Xplornet said the YourLink deal is “complementary” to its own operations; Lenehan said the company believes the deal “will allow us to provide even more value for YourLink customers.”

Xplornet said Monday it plans to further expand its own network with “continued extension” of its LTE coverage and the launch of two new satellites offering internet download speeds “not previously seen in many parts of rural Canada.”

Areas of Saskatchewan that were earmarked for expanded YourLink high-speed service through the company’s 2015 plan included Albertville, Battleford, Carruthers, Dinsmore, Estevan, Loon Lake, Melfort, Moose Jaw, Nipawin, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Rouleau, Swift Current, Tompkins, Wakaw Lake, Weldon and Yorkton. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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