Canada postponed its next 5G spectrum sale until June 2021, in an effort to help operators prioritise delivering connectivity during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

In a statement, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains revealed a six month hold on the auction of 3500MHz spectrum, which is now scheduled to commence on 15 June 2021.

“Canada’s telecommunications service providers are doing their part in this difficult time, providing essential services to keep Canadians connected as we face the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic together. A number of providers have raised concerns, and the government is implementing measures to address them”.

He said the government continued to back operators, being aware of the challenges they face and supporting efforts to ensure “Canadians have access to high-quality networks and broad coverage at low prices”.

Bains also outlined an upcoming consultation on the 3800MHz band scheduled for August, which will seek insights from stakeholders on the ways additional spectrum could be used to support Canada’s “world-class wireless infrastructure and progress toward the next generation of connectivity”.

A prior sale of 600MHz spectrum for next-generation networks completed in April 2019 netted the government CAD3.47 billion ($2.6 billion), with nine participants awarded 104 of the 112 licences on the block.