According to The Globe & Mail, Xplornet has entered negotiations on a potential purchase of Shaw Communications’ Freedom Mobile division, as Rogers Communications looks at options for offloading Freedom to gain regulatory clearance for its proposed takeover of Shaw.

New Brunswick-based Xplornet is Canada’s largest specialist rural fixed wireless broadband provider and has taken tentative steps into the cellular market by introducing a mobile service in parts of Manitoba and buying up 4G/5G spectrum licences suitable for mobile services in several regions. Xplornet is backed by US-based private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners.

The latest news followed a report that Canadian investment firm Globalive Capital – Freedom’s previous owner – had offered to buy back its former asset for CAD3.75 billion (USD2.9 billion), more than double the CAD1.6 billion price Shaw paid for the company in 2016. Other potential bidders for Freedom – Canada’s fourth largest cellco by subscriptions – could include two major regional cable and mobile operators: Quebec-based Videotron (part of Quebecor) and Nova Scotia-based Eastlink, privately owned by the Bragg family.