updated 01:35 pm EDT, Mon March 17, 2008
Canada Wireless Bidders
The Canadian government today introduced a list of bidders in the upcoming wireless auction that is expected to determine the future of the country's cellular industry. The auction is now known to include several newcomers under different operating names, such as Videotron owner Quebecor Media, Manitoba's MTS, and western telecoms firm Shaw. However, large existing carriers such as Bell Canada, Rogers, and Telus are also joining the auction.
Smaller players, such as SSI Micro and YourLink, are also known to be entering the auction but are primarily interested in regional service rather than the national licenses that are also up for sale in the auction.
Scheduled for May 27th, the auction is the first to follow an FCC-style auction often held in the US, which grants pieces of the spectrum to whoever is willing to place the highest bid for a given area. It mirrors the current auction for the 700MHz band in the US but primarily touches on granting access in the 2GHz spectrum that could be used for a future wireless cellular service. Technologies such as third-generation HSPA access as well as fourth-generation WiMAX and Long Term Evolution (LTE) can operate in the 2GHz band.
An auction that sees a new entrant as a winner is expected to drive down the cost of cellphone service in Canada, which is widely recognized to be disproportionately high compared to the US and other places in the developed world. Rogers lately introduced unlimited data plans for non-smartphones and is believed to have done so under pressure from rivals and statements by the government about high prices.