Canada’s recently-completed CAD2.11 billion ($1.7 billion) spectrum auction will “lead to more choice, lower prices, and better services for consumers”, after new players emerged as the winning bidders on most of the frequencies, according to government body Industry Canada.
The new competitors have increased their spectrum holdings by 107 per cent “on average”. All licences also include a strict “use it or lose it” clause, to ensure frequencies are put to use.
Reuters said that the smaller operators paid less than their more established rivals, under a government plan intended to spur competition. Spectrum was set-aside for new entrants, with conditions on the transfer of permits in future.
Of the “big three” players, Rogers Communications did not win any new permits. TELUS acquired frequencies in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, to increase its holdings by 16 per cent, and Bell bought spectrum in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Northern Quebec, Ontario, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon to increase its allocation by 4 per cent.
Of course, the percentage increases depend on the amount of spectrum originally held by the various companies, making it easier for the new entrants to hit the big numbers than the larger players.
Telus opened its wallet widest, pledging CAD1.5 billion, followed by Bell at CAD499.9 million – around 95 per cent of the total.
WIND acquired spectrum in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to increase its holding by 180 per cent; Eastlink acquired spectrum in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Northern Ontario to boost its allocation by 77 per cent; and Videotron bought permits in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, to boost its allocation by 65 per cent.
“Spectrum is a vital public resource and it is the government’s responsibility to allocate it in a way that encourages robust competition and choice in the wireless market. The result of the AWS-3 auction supports our government’s policies of delivering more choice, lower prices and better service on the latest technologies,” James Moore, Minister of Industry, said.
The Canadian authorities are set to auction more frequencies from April 2015, when bidding begins for 2.5GHz allocations. By summer 2015, the amount of spectrum available for mobile services will have increased by almost 60 per cent since early 2014, including an earlier 700MHz auction.