They’re auctioning spectrum in Canada – Telus and Bell the big spenders, Wind the big winner


In the US, the AWS-3 spectrum auction brought in big money, really big money. Well in the great white north of Canada, they just concluded a spectrum auction for the same bands of frequencies, and while the dollar amount does not hold a candle to what regulators bagged in the US, it was enough to have officials and some carriers smiling.

When you consider the scale of the markets, the AWS-3 auction in Canada did pretty well. $1.67 billion was raised in the final tally (all currency converted to US dollars). The structure of the auction was different from what the FCC did in the US, with a number of restrictions placed on about 30MHz out of 50MHz of spectrum set aside for entities that were not Rogers, Telus, or Bell (the “big three”).

Canada’s biggest carrier, Rogers, did not pick up any licenses in this auction. Telus was the biggest spender, bidding $1.2 billion for 15 licenses that cover most of Canada’s 34 million people. Bell Mobility picked up 13 licenses that should reach 13.5 million people for $396 million.

While those figures make those companies the big spenders, the big winner (if you look at "bang for the buck") is undoubtedly Wind Mobile, who only had to pony up $44.7 million for 3 licenses that reach 18 million people. The favorable conditions presented themselves when Wind’s presumptive competitor in the reserved spectrum space, Mobilicity, dropped from the auction. 

Despite some reserved spectrum in lesser populated parts of the country went unsold, the Canadian government is undaunted in its model for auctioning off assets. Industry Canada claims that rates have fallen 22% on average over the past seven years. All auctioned assets also have a "use it or lose it" requirement, ensuring the airwaves get put into service. There will be another auction next month for spectrum in the 2.5GHz band.

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source: Light Reading and Industry Canada (YouTube)

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