March 6, 2013 / 10:22 PM / 6 years ago

Wind adds 80,000 Canadian wireless customers as it moves upscale

WIND Mobile cell phones are displayed at a retail store before the official launch of WIND Mobile, a new cellular service for the Canadian market, in Toronto, December 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Wind Mobile, a 2008 entrant to Canada’s wireless industry, added almost 80,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter and the majority signed postpaid contracts that are more lucrative for service providers.

The upstart, in the process of being acquired by Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd VIP.N, is seeking to upgrade its image from a talk-and-text niche provider to a legitimate national challenger to the three dominant telecoms.

Wind expanded its network to cover more than 14 million Canadians and can now boast a total of more than 590,000 active subscribers, the company said on Wednesday.

That still pales in comparison to the wireless units of BCE Inc’s Bell (BCE.TO), Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO) and Telus Corp (T.TO), which together control more than 90 percent of the industry.

But Wind’s gains at the end of 2012 exceeded those of Rogers, which added 58,000 net postpaid subscribers and lost prepaid customers in the same period.

Postpaid customers are highly valued by telephone companies, as they typically pay more each month to use the latest smartphones.

Wind’s subscribers paid an average monthly bill of C$28.10 in the period, an increase from the year-ago period but still roughly half of what Rogers, Bell and Telus bring in per user.

The CEO of Wind’s parent VimpelCom earlier on Wednesday told Reuters that the Canadian business could be sold, merged or make an acquisition after the deal giving it control is completed.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Frank McGurty and Nick Zieminski

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