Canada 700 MHz Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises Whopping C$5.27B ($4.76B), Quebecor to Become 4th Carrier?

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 20, 2014 4:07 PM EST

Canada has announced on Wednesday the winning bidders of the 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction, which raked in a whopping total of C$5.27 billion ($4.76 billion).

The country's three big players Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus continued to dominate the market. Rogers acquired 22 licenses, or more than 60 per cent of the total, and paid C$3.29 billion for them, the most out of all 10 bidders. Telus paid C$1.14 billion for 30 licenses, while Bell paid C$565.7 million for 31 licenses.

REUTERS
A man looks at his phone as he walks past a Verizon wireless store in New York, July 30, 2009.

The 700 MHz wireless standard will enable signals to traverse over longer distances, as well as more easily penetrate walls such as elevators, basements and parking garages. Subscribers will get to enjoy more bandwidth-hogging movie and music streaming services.

"This wireless spectrum auction is a clear win for Canadians," Industry Minister James Moore said.

A total of eight out of 10 bidders won 97 licenses.

"It seems that Rogers had a greater appetite than Bell or Telus and Videotron seems to have come through the middle," Iain Grant, managing director of telecom consultancy Seaboard Group, was quoted by Reuters.

Videotron unit Quebecor won seven licenses worth C$233.3 million, effectively enabling the new national challenger to expand its service not only in southern Ontario but as well as add customers in British Columbia and Alberta. Its entry even prompted Mr Moore to say the Quebec-based carrier Vidéotron could easily become Canada's fourth carrier.

"I think it is great that they are making an investment," Mr Moore said. "I think it is great that they are looking beyond the traditional footprint of the province of Quebec."

Early in January, the Canadian government had said that whatever proceeds the auction will generate will help attain a budget surplus in 2015.

Canada has its last auction in 2008 which raked in C$4.25 billion.

Another auction, this time for the 2,500 MHz spectrum, has been set by the federal government in April 2015. The particular spectrum will enable companies deploy next-generation networks to customers on their smartphones or tablets.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Brendan McDermid)
A man looks at his phone as he walks past a Verizon wireless store in New York, July 30, 2009.
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