Telus’ 2021 spending plans draw a bead on Victoria with $63m allocation

Spending comes as Telus sold off 51m shares in March to raise $1.3b

Photo: Rob Kruyt, BIV

Telus Corp. (TSX:T) is firming up its previously announced spending plans for its home province, announcing Tuesday it was earmarking $63 million for Greater Victoria specifically.

The Vancouver-based telecom giant revealed it would drop the multimillion-dollar sum on everything from 5G infrastructure to further expanding its internet capacity within the capital region.

The company also said it was rebranding its Telus Victoria Community Board, which supports local charities. Instead, it’s now known as the Telus Vancouver Island Community Board as it expands its mandate to support the entire island.

The rebranding comes with a $50,000 grant to complete the construction of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island’s Q̓ʷalayu House in Campbell River.

The house offers living quarters for families in the region who need to travel to get medical care.

Telus also reaffirmed on Tuesday its new Victoria office, dubbed Telus Ocean, is set to open in 2024.

The company revealed in May it would be rolling out its 5G network to another 187 communities in B.C. and 333 communities in the rest of the country by year’s end.

It estimated the expansion would cover 70% of the country’s population.

Back in March, Telus sold off 51 million shares priced at $25.35 each as part of a bid to raise $1.3 billion.

The company said at the time the fresh capital was needed to further build out its 5G and broadband internet offerings. 

Anywhere from $500 million to $700 million is expected to be spent this year, while $750 million to $1 billion would be carried over into 2022.

The spring effort to raise more cash came just over a week after rivals Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI) and Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR) announced plans to merge.

Rogers’ potential acquisition of Shaw would see Telus overtaken as the nation’s second-largest telecom provider based on market capitalization, and comes at a time telecom companies are ramping up 5G deployment.

Rogers said it would commit $2.5 billion to expanding its 5G network in Western Canada.

Telus’ initial 5G rollout in June 2020 trailed Rogers by five months and Bell by one week.

Telus had long been aligned with Huawei on its 5G ambitions, but Telus and Bell eventually left the Chinese company in the dust in June 2020 when they announced they were tapping European vendors Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Nasdaq:ERIC) and Nokia Corp. (HEL:NOKIA) to build out their 5G networks.

Telus is also tapping Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to help deploy its 5G products.