The Competition Bureau has also ordered BCE to give Xplornet "expedited access" to its cell towers in Manitoba for five years, mobile roaming services and help with buying handsets.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said that the deal was approved subject to terms imposed by the Competition Bureau that included the sale of six retail stores, almost 25,000 subscribers and 40 megahertz of wireless spectrum to rural broadband Internet provider Xplornet.
The final stamp of approval is being put on the Bell-MTS acquisition at the federal regulatory level. "Xplornet, meanwhile, has announced it will expand into mobile wireless service for the first time".
The bureau found that the proposed merger would result in the "removal of a strong regional competitor that was effective in constraining the pricing of Bell, Rogers and Telus products".
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today made the following statement on the acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. The takeover is expected to close on 17 March.
"This is bad news for consumers and businesses in Manitoba", said OpenMedia's communications manager David Christopher.
In a risk assessment published a year ago, SaskTel said that while the sale would create financial, competitive and regulatory risks, it has identified most of the risks and has plans in place to manage them.
Although the Competition Bureau mandated that Bell sell a modest number of subscribers, stores, and spectrum to Xplornet, it will take years for Xplornet to gain a meaningful hold in Manitoba's wireless market.
The competition watchdog pointed out that earlier this month Bell was offering a 5GB plan in Ontario for $105, while the same plan was going for $60 in Manitoba.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced December 20 that it had approved the transfer of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.'s (MTS) Broadcasting Distribution Undertaking (BDU) licences to Bell Canada.