MTS: Telecom service provider's highlights, history in Manitoba

Bell Canada's acquisition of MTS marks the end of an era for the Manitoba-based company.

Former Crown corporation has been based in Winnipeg for more than a century

The MTS building in downtown Winnipeg. (Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)

Bell's acquisition of MTS marks the end of an era for the Manitoba-based company.

Bell Canada Enterprises announced Monday it has agreed to buy Manitoba Telecom Services in a whopping $3.9-billion deal, which the organization estimates will take the next nine to 12 months to wrap up.

MTS (previously known as the Manitoba Telephone System) has been in the Manitoba telecommunications business for more than 100 years. The organization evolved from a Crown corporation and telephone service provider in the early 1900s to the publicly traded television, wireless and internet service provider it is today.

MTS went through a series of notable change over the years.

In 1959, the company launched North America's first emergency hotline.

Winnipeggers call 999 for help

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2 years agoVideo
North America's first emergency hotline speeds response times for fire, police and ambulance service. 15:20

In the winter of 1996, then-premier Gary Filmon and the Progressive Conservative government voted to privatize the company. The deal was controversial but was finalized in 1997.

Following a series of complaints about poor internet connections, in 2002 the company began replacing dated technology to improve the quality of network services offered in northern Manitoba.

In December of 2003, the company secured the rights to name what would become the home of the Winnipeg Jets the MTS Centre.
In 2004, MTS acquired Allstream, which provides internet services to business and governments. The Winnipeg company tried to sell Allstream to the Egyptian investment group Accelero Capital Holdings in 2013, but the deal was blocked by the federal government, which cited "unspecified national security concerns."
The federal government rejected a deal for MTS to sell its business unit, Allstream, to Egyptian investment group Accelero Capital due to "unspecified national security concerns" in 2013. (CBC)

MTS eventually sold Allstream in 2015 to U.S.-listed Zayo Group Holdings Inc. for $465 million cash.

In January 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a lower court ruling that a pension surplus of $43.3-million that existed when the former Manitoba Telephone System was privatized in 1997 "belonged to the workers and retirees and must be repaid," according to union leaders.

In March of 2016, MTS and other cable providers launched "reasonably priced" television packs.
​Manitobans were given a handful of new cable package options after a CRTC ruling came into effect in March, mandating cable providers offer “reasonably priced” entry-level services. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)
The CRTC mandated MTS and Shaw offer cheaper cable packages after consulting with the public, many of whom said the current options were too expensive and large.

On May 2, 2016, Bell agreed to buy MTS for $3.9 billion.

With files from The Canadian Press