Leftover 4G Spectrum for Highest Telecom Bidders in Canada

The department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Canada (ISED) announced that telecommunication companies can bid on unassigned or returned spectrum licenses in the 700 MHz, Wireless Communications Services (WCS), Personal Communications Services (PCS), 1670-1675 MHz (I Block) and Broadband Radio Services (BRS) 2500 MHz bands, according to Mobile Syrup news.

ISED is responsible for spectrum management in Canada and believes the un-assigned wireless spectrum resources will bring economic and social benefits to all Canadians, including residents in rural areas. The ISED said in its release, “This spectrum will support the development of Canada’s digital economy and the Innovation and Skills Plan’s priorities by enabling all Canadians to participate in the digital economy.” The Government of Canada said it understands the need for high-quality, convenient, and reliable telecom services, and believes the residual spectrum will foster innovation, growth, and competition across all divisions of the country.  

The licenses set to go on the block are all leftover from previous auctions. In the Consultation on a Licensing Framework for Residual Spectrum Licenses in the 700 MHz, 2500 MHz, 2300 MHz, PCS and 1670-1675 MHz bands, ISED lays out what 4G spectrum is available. The auction of residual licenses for Mobile Broadband Services in the 700 MHz band was held in August 2015, and three licenses remained unassigned. The auction of spectrum licenses for Broadband Radio Services in the 2500‑2690 MHz band was held in May 2015, and 16 licenses remained unassigned. Four returned licenses in the 2300 MHz band for the WCS will be up for auction. The auction of PCS spectrum licenses was held in May 2008, and two 1910-1915/1990-1995 MHz licenses remained unassigned. The auction of 1670-1675 MHz spectrum licenses was held in May 2008 and eight licenses remained unassigned.

The extra 4G spectrum will significantly add to the competitive wireless market in Canada, which has both large and small telecom companies fighting for the highest bid. ISED confirmed 10 Canadian telecom companies as qualified bidders on April 10. Mobile Syrup reported the list of wireless companies, which are:

  • Freedom Mobile Inc.
  • Cogeco Connexion Inc.
  • Iris Technologies Inc. (Iristel)
  • Xplornet Communications Inc.
  • Rogers Communications
  • Telus Communications Inc.
  • Execulink Telecom Inc.
  • Ecotel Inc.
  • Canadian Natural Resources (operator in the business of natural gas and crude oil)
  • 3C Information Solutions Incorporated

To keep things fair and to maximize efficiency for stakeholders, instead of allowing multiple rounds for price discovery, ISED is using a sealed-bid auction format that requires all bidders to submit their proposals at the same time. The auction of residual licenses will stay open until May 15. On May 18, the Government of Canada plan to announce the auction winners.

April 12, 2018

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