Rogers Communications executives explained why they spent big on 600MHz spectrum in a recent auction, telling investors the frequency will play a key part in its 5G strategy.

The Canadian operator spent CAD$1.7 billion ($1.3 billion) in an auction earlier this month, securing a 20MHz nationwide swathe of spectrum in the band and up to 40MHz in certain population centres. The investment amounted to nearly half of the total CAD$3.5 billion raised in the sale.

In an earnings call, CTO Jorge Fernandes talked up the ability of the spectrum to provide broad coverage at a low cost, characteristics he said are “incredibly important” and “foundational” to Rogers Communications’ plans.

Securing the spectrum will enable the operator to “very quickly provide wide-area coverage of 5G without a huge cost,” Fernandes added.

As new use cases are developed for 5G, Fernandes said low-band spectrum will work “in tandem with mid-band and high-band spectrum” to provide a solid coverage layer on top of which capacity can be added where needed.

President and CEO Joe Natale said the operator is already working with Ericsson to upgrade its radio network and will be ready to deploy the spectrum when it becomes available in 2020.

Rogers Communications’ approach is similar to that taken by T-Mobile US, which also invested heavily in 600MHz spectrum and is planning to anchor its 5G network with the band.