Manitoba Telecom Services

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.
Traded as TSXMBT
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1908
Headquarters Winnipeg, Manitoba
Key people
David Leith (Chairman)
Jay Forbes (CEO)
Revenue Increase$1.704 billion CAD (2013)[1]
Decrease$242.2 million CAD (2013)[1]
Decrease$84.4 million CAD (2013)[1]
Number of employees
4,849 (2013)[1]

Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), formerly Manitoba Telephone System, is the primary telecommunications carrier in the Canadian province of Manitoba and the fourth largest telecommunications provider in Canada[3] 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 one operating subsidiary; MTS 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.[4]

The company's head office is located in MTS Place on Main Street, in Downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba.



At midnight on June 21, 1959, Winnipeg was the first urban area in North America to implement the 9-9-9 Emergency Number.[5]

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, a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) which was 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.[6]

In August 1999 MTS completed work on a new trunked (digital) radio system known as FleetNet 800, technology licensed from neighbouring SaskTel.[6]

In the Fall of 1999 MTS began to offer DSL high-speed Internet service in Winnipeg and Brandon, which later expanded to other areas of the province.[6]

MTS Technician van in Winnipeg


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.[7] Cellular telephone service is currently available to 97% of population in the province.,[8] but some areas, like Piney, Manitoba still have poor coverage.[9]

in 2002 Intrigna changes its name to Bell Intrigna. Calgary-based telecommunications supplier Intrigna and Bell Nexxia announced strategic changes to enhance their market presence in western Canada and better serve customers in the west. The changes include closer coordination of their activities to serve all segments of the western Canadian business telecommunications market, and the renaming of Intrigna to Bell Intrigna.

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 February, 2004 Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) said it will make a $230 million pre-tax profit on the sale of its stake in Bell West Inc., the Calgary-based provider of business services. MTS will sell its 40 per cent of Bell West to Bell Canada, a subsidiary of BCE Inc., which holds 22 per cent of MTS.

MTSAllstream Logo 2004

In April 2004, MTS acquired Allstream,[10] 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.

In July 2004, Bell Canada and MTS settled and unwound ownership agreements to conclude ownership in Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

On December 7, 2005, former BCE executive Pierre Blouin was named Chief Executive Officer of Manitoba Telecom Services and of MTS Allstream, replacing longtime CEO Bill Fraser.


On March 31, 2011 MTS officially launched a HSPA+ wireless network along with the availability Apple's iPhone series of smartphones starting with the iPhone 4. The wireless network had claims it would provide data speeds up to 21Mbit/s.[11] In September 2012, MTS launched LTE, with it initially rolling out in the cities of Winnipeg and Brandon.

MTS' older CDMA network continues to work with CDMA handsets. According to the MTS website, MTS plans on shutting down its CDMA service by the end of 2016.[12]

In May 2013, Allstream was to be sold to Accelero Capital, with the deal expected to close by the end of the year.[13] However, on October 7, 2013, the Canadian government blocked the sale over national security concerns, declining to mention the specific concerns.[14]

In November 2014, Jay A. Forbes was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective January 1, 2015.[15][16][17]

As of February 2016, 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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]