THUNDER BAY -- Tbaytel’s new board chair remains optimistic that the company can increase its dividend to the city in the coming years.
Jack Jamieson, who replaces Michael Power as chair of the Tbaytel Municipal Services Board, said the dividend this year is at least $17 million with the possibility for more.
Upgrades to LTE for mobile devices along with increasing the fibre internet and digital TV customer base could go a long way to see a bump in this year's dividend and the years ahead.
"It's always a possibility," he said. "There are many challenges and projects ahead of us."
Jamieson, a board member since 2008, has heard concerns about the company's plan to take on $10 million in debt, but debt is part of any business, especially in telecommunications.
Borrowing helps a company invest in itself long-term and allows it to grow. Compared to the rest of the industry, Tbaytel is in a comfortable position when it comes to debt.
"Our balance sheet would be the envy of any of the other company in the Canadian telecommunications industry," he said.
As for being shut out of the recent 700 MHz spectrum auction, Jamieson said that shouldn't be cause for concern about the company's capacity. Seven-hundred is good for high-density areas like downtown Toronto.
Tbaytel has a different footprint in the region with its own 800 MHz and 2500MHz spectrum along with the ability to get some help from its partnership with Rogers if needed. The bids got too high in the auction and Tbaytel didn't need the spectrum at any price.
"We had established a budget that we would have spent to acquire it. There are some advantages to having it but the price just got well beyond what we viewed for our needs as commercially reasonable and so withdrew from the auction," Jamieson said.