Manitoba Telecom Services
|Traded as||TSX: MBT|
|David Leith (Chairman)
Jay Forbes (CEO)
|Revenue||$1.704 billion CAD (2013)|
|$242.2 million CAD (2013)|
|$84.4 million CAD (2013)|
Number of employees
Manitoba Telecom Services (TSX: MBT), or MTS, formerly Manitoba Telephone System, is the primary telecommunications carrier in the Canadian province of Manitoba and the fourth largest telecommunications provider in Canada with over 5000 employees. It provides local and long-distance phone services, television service, Internet service and wireless services including digital PCS, cellular, and paging. Manitoba Telecom Services is the publicly traded holding company; It currently has two operating subsidiaries; MTS Inc. and Allstream Inc.
MTS is the descendant company of Manitoba Government Telephones which went into operation in January 1908 after the government of Manitoba bought Bell Canada's Manitoba operations. The Crown corporation became Manitoba Telephone System in 1921, and eventually absorbed all private telephone operations in the province. In 1996, the Provincial government of Premier Gary Filmon decided to sell the Manitoba Telephone System to private shareholders. The decision to privatize was seen as controversial, as it marked a significant departure from the Progressive Conservatives' earlier position that MTS should remain provincially owned.
At midnight on June 21, 1959, Winnipeg was the first urban area in North America to implement the 9-9-9 Emergency Number.
Also in the late 1950s, MTS located one of its administrative offices on Empress St. near the newly opened Polo Park Shopping Centre complex. In 2001 these employees were moved to 333 Main St., commonly known as MTS Place, where 1200 employees now work. This formed part of the Province's Downtown First strategy.
In the late 1970s, similar to policy changes implemented by AT&T in the U.S., MTS allowed its customers to purchase their own telephone equipment and with this, provided free installation of RJ11 telephone jacks.
In the Spring of 1979, MTS announced that it would be a pioneer in Telidon-based two-way electronic information services. The trial was called "Project IDA" and ran from 1980 to 1981.
MTS was a pioneer in offering videotex at the commercial level. In 1981, it partnered with Infomart (then owned by the Torstar and Southam newspaper chains) to create the Grassroots service, providing information relevant to farmers on the Canadian prairies. Customers paid $47.50 per month to subscribe to Grassroots, plus connection fees to DATAPAC. Terminal equipment was manufactured by Norpak.
They opened MTS Phone Centre stores in shopping malls to sell residential and business phones and services, and in 1984 opened two MTS Business Centre locations (Commodity Exchange Tower lobby and Empress St. office) to provide sales of business-level equipment.
In the mid-1980s, MTS started a subsidiary known as MTX, which had invested in telecommunications in Saudi Arabia. However MTX was forced to shut down after controversy about the company back in Manitoba after MTX lost $27 million on the venture.
In the late 1980s MTS launched MTS Mobility providing cellular and paging services in Manitoba.
In 1996 in a controversial decision, the Provincial government decided to sell the Manitoba Telephone System to private shareholders. The vote to privatize MTS was held in early December 1996.
In January 1999 MTS partnered with Bell Canada to form Intrigna, which was a company created to expand telecommunications options for the business market in Alberta and British Columbia. As part of the deal, Bell Canada gained 20% ownership of MTS. They set up a jointly operated office in Calgary. By the summer of 1999, fibre optic cable had been laid in Edmonton and Calgary, and later extended to Vancouver. Intrigna was renamed Bell West.
The CRTC met with the various telecommunications providers in Canada and required of them to implement a Service Improvement Plan (SIP). This meant that MTS had to improve service to northern remote areas that even by the 21st century had poor quality phone service. Customers in northern Manitoba complained that the microwave system could not handle data communications (modem, fax) well. This, as well as the collapse of a microwave relay tower linking Churchill in early January 2000, lead MTS to initiate upgrades to the Radisson-Churchill corridor with fibre optics and the Lynn Lake-Thompson corridor with a digital microwave system to replace the outdated equipment. Cellular telephone service is currently available to 97% of population in the province., but some areas, like Piney, Manitoba still have poor coverage.
On December 10, 2003 MTS bought the naming rights for the True North Centre, in downtown Winnipeg, renaming it the MTS Centre. It was the company's single largest advertising expenditure. The MTS Centre became the home arena of the Winnipeg Jets NHL team upon their return to the city in 2011.
In April 2004, MTS acquired Allstream, the successor to the transcontinental railways' telegraph businesses. Renaming the main subsidiary to MTS Allstream Inc. Until 2012, when it was re-split as MTS Inc. and Allstream Inc.
On March 31, 2011 MTS officially launched their new HSPA+ wireless network along with the support Apple's iPhone 4 shortly after. The new wireless network makes use of sim card technology, and provides data speeds up to 21Mbit/s. In September 2012, MTS launched LTE, starting in the cities of Winnipeg and Brandon.
MTS' older CDMA network continues to work with MTS CDMA handsets. MTS is the only major regional or national CDMA network in Canada without announced or leaked plans to shut down its CDMA network.
In May 2013, Allstream was to be Sold to Accelero Capital, With the deal expected to close by the end of the year, However on October 7, 2013, The Canadian Government blocked the sale over "National Security" Concerns, declining to mention the actual concerns.
As February 2015, MTS has not launched voice over LTE (VoLTE). Consequently all voice calls take place via its HSPA+ network.
The administration offices are located at 333 Main St., in the former Bank of Montreal Building. The complex is now known as MTS Place.
The MTS Long Distance Gateway is located in the J. F. Mills Building on Corydon Avenue near what is locally known as Confusion Corner. One of its functions is to transmit local television signals from Winnipeg to retransmitters throughout the province.
- "MTS Allstream 2013 Annual Report". Manitoba Telecom Services. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
- "Corporate Profile". Retrieved 2011-11-08.
- "Public Values - Manitoba Telephones, ten years later". Retrieved 2010-04-13.
- "CBC Archive - 1959 - Winnipeggers call 9-9-9 for help". CBC News. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Manitoba Telecom Services - 2000 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "CRTC Decision 2002-63 - Includes upgrades to MTS microwave network". Archived from the original on 2006-11-10. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Cellular dead zones decried". Winnipeg Free Press. 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- "Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) Annual Convention 2012 News Release - Lack of cell coverage threatens public safety" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Carly Suppa (2004-04-01). "Manitoba Telecom Services to Buy Allstream". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- MTS' new HSPA+ network launches March 31, 2011
- "MTS to Sell Allstream". Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Sale of Allstream Blocked". Retrieved 7 Oct 2013.