Bumper bids led by market leader Rogers, whose winning bids represented more than 60 per cent of the total CAD 5.27 billion ($4.78 billion), meant Canada’s 700 MHz auction generated some surprisingly high numbers.
Rogers paid CAD3.29 billion for 22 of the 97 licences on offer, followed in the bidding league table by Canada’s two other big operators. Telus committed CAD1.14 billion for 30 licences and Bell Mobility had winning bids of CAD566 million for 31 licences.
Although barely half of the $10 billion raised in India’s recently-completed auction, nonetheless the Canadian result shows operators are willing to put their hands in their pockets in a big way for attractive, 4G-friendly frequencies.
The auction also delivered the promise of greater competition. Smaller player Videotron, which is based mostly in Quebec, acquired frequencies for other parts of the country, including the most populous areas. It acquired seven licences for CAD233 million.
Ultimately, the lack of foreign bidders and withdrawals by smaller domestic players did not restrain the intensity of bidding.
Some concern was expressed among investors about Rogers bidding several times higher than prior expectations.
The operator’s successful bids were for some of the most attractive spectrum blocks on offer, explaining the premium it is paying relative to the number of licences it acquired.
“Not all 700MHz spectrum in the auction was the same; we secured the beachfront property we wanted,” said Guy Laurence, CEO of Rogers Communications.
There were also a number of smaller bidders. MTS acquired one licence for CAD9 million while SaskTel bought one block of spectrum for CAD 8 million, both focusing on their home regions.
New entrant Bragg won four blocks of spectrum for CAD20 million, and Feenix took one for CAD0.3 million. Two participants, TBayTel and Novus, did not acquire any spectrum, and one licence went unsold.