Indsutry Canada today announced that its next spectrum auction will kick off on March 3, 2015. By the time the AWS-3 spectrum auction wraps up in May 2015, Industry Minister James Moore expects that the amount of spectrum available to provide mobile services to consumers will have grown by almost 60 percent since early 2014.
By that point, new competitors such as Mobilicity, Videotron and WIND Mobile could hold as much as 25 percent of the total mobile wireless spectrum available in Canada. In comparison, the largest Canadian carriers (Bell, Rogers and TELUS) held 98% of the spectrum in 2006. According to Moore,
“Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies.”
60 percent of the available spectrum will be reserved for the new carriers. The remaining 40 percent will be made available to all auction participants.
Much as we saw with this year’s 700MHz spectrum auction, there will be minimum bid requirements for each spectrum block. Should the auction not go much further than these opening bids, Industry Canada could raise as little as CA$162.5 million. In comparison, the 700MHz spectrum auction raised CA$5.27 billion.
It appears that the rest of 2015 could be quite busy as well. Moore also announced plans to make the 600MHz spectrum band available for mobile use. The 3,500MHz and AWS-4 spectrum bands could follow although both will also be used to improve access in rural and remote areas. An additional 2100MHz of spectrum will also be made available to carriers “to support the infrastructure wireless companies need to deliver the services that Canadians want.”
Needless to say, the newer carriers are excited at the prospect of securing spectrum that will allow them to deploy their LTE networks. WIND Mobile, which now has 800,000 subscribers put out a press release declaring that the new rules “will help pave the way for greater innovation, better services, and lower mobile rates for all Canadians:”
“The Federal Government’s commitment to sustained competition from a fourth carrier in every region is entirely in the best interest of Canadians, and we at WIND Mobile are committed to continuing as that alternative in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta,” Lacavera added. “Canadians are already enjoying the benefits of increased competition; wireless rates have come down 22 per cent since WIND Mobile launched. Today’s announcement will only help increase competition further and allow even more benefits to be enjoyed by Canadians.”