New Canadian operator Public Mobile has announced a high-profile vendor financing deal with Chinese manufacturer ZTE worth C$350 million. “Public Mobile, ZTE and the Export-Import Bank of China have agreed to the terms of a $350M financing arrangement that supports Public Mobile’s plan to build a wireless network stretching across its licensed area from Windsor to Quebec City,” the startup carrier noted in a statement. “This vendor financing arrangement, combined with hundreds of millions of dollars in equity commitments from its shareholders, means Public Mobile has a fully funded business plan and can build out its entire licensed area.” The deal is for deployment of a CDMA network from ZTE (over 1,000 base stations), as well as service support and handsets. The loan from the bank to the operator is part of a much larger credit line that gives support to Chinese vendors looking to win deals outside of their home country. The win at Public Mobile is ZTE’s first fully integrated Canadian deal.
Formed in 2008, Public Mobile is one of five new Canadian hopefuls – others being Globalive, Mobilicity, Videotron and Shaw – that plan to break the dominance of incumbent operators Rogers, Bell and Telus. Public Mobile aims to offer unlimited talk and text services to 19 million Canadians across Ontario and Quebec. It opened stores in Toronto and Montreal last March and launched network service in Toronto on May 26. Public Mobile plans to launch service in Montreal today. Public Mobile paid C$52 million to buy wireless spectrum in a 2008 government auction.