Telus launches into satellite TV business

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Hundreds of channels will be available to 90 per cent of customers in B.C. and Alberta following deal to sell Bell’s service in the West

Fiona Anderson

Vancouver-based telecommunications giant Telus Corp. has added satellite television to its suite of services.

Telus satellite TV — with more than 500 digital channels, including more than 80 in high definition — is now available to more than 90 per cent of homes in British Columbia and Alberta, the company said in a news release.

In May, Telus announced it had signed a deal with BCE Inc. to sell Bell‘s satellite TV in the two western-most provinces under the Telus brand.

Telus also has its own television service, Telus TV, which is delivered through its broadband network. That service has been launched in major centres — where the broadband infrastructure exists — and has more than 100,000 subscribers.

With the launch of satellite TV, Telus can now attract television customers in rural areas sooner and provide bundled services to 90 per cent of households in the region.

“We’re very committed to providing that triple play of video, local and broadband across the widest footprint possible,” Chris Langdon, Telus’s vice-president of networks services said in an interview. “So we’re really excited about Telus satellite and we think it has lots of legs for Telus.”

With Shaw Communications gaining local telephone subscribers who can bundle with its cable television service, bundling is important.

“The strategic imperative for Telus is all around bundles and ownership of the home,” Langdon said.

But Telus will continue to invest in its broadband, which would enable Telus TV to reach more homes, Langdon said.

“We very much view the two services — both satellite and IP TV — as complementary and it just puts us in such a better position to offer bundles across a much broader percentage of households,” he said.

Langdon expects the two will remain complementary for a long time.

The services will be very similar, but there are some advantages to each technology type, he said. For example, some people won’t want a satellite dish on their home so they would be better off with Telus TV.

“There are lots of cases where both will have their niche and I think we’ll be advantaged by having both,” Langdon said.

Greg MacDonald, an analyst with NBF Financial, called the agreement between Bell and Telus “a marginal positive” for Telus.

“We have witnessed this dual-prong approach of IP/satellite TV with AT&T, which has seen some merits,” MacDonald wrote in a note.

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