updated 03:45 pm EDT, Tue July 22, 2008
CDN Wireless Auction Ends
The Canadian auction for the 2GHz wireless spectrum has ended and confirmed the creation of a new carrier for the country, Industry Canada announced on Monday. The end of bidding will see Globalive, which operates Yak Mobile in Canada but is primarily supported by foreign investments, pay $442 million for a license that gives it licenses to cover all of the country's provinces with services except for Quebec, where it lost out to competing firms such as cable and media powerhouse Quebecor.
Company chief Anthony Lacavera doesn't provide specific plans but makes it clear that the service should focus on lower phone rates as well as the elimination of hidden fees widely thought to be in use to mask the true cost of service to new subscribers, such as (but not limited to) Rogers' $7 System Access Fee. "Canadians are unhappy about the costs, the complexity of the billing," the executive says.
An actual nationwide service could be ready as early as spring of 2009, according to analysis by Seaboard Group president Iain Grant, though this depends both on the technology and the ability of Globalive to build out quickly. An early launch would be based on a 2GHz variant of either HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) or primarily Europe-based UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) 3G cellular networks but would appear a year or less before larger carriers begin rolling out 4G services on the newer, faster LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard. The newcomer would be forced either into an early upgrade or else would have to run on an older network technology.
Other new entrants to multi-province cellular service include cable provider Shaw, which would primarily service the prairies, as well as Eastlink's parent company Bragg Communications, which would serve the Maritimes.
Incumbent carriers will also have access to nearby portions of spectrum and are likely to offer similar services on their own networks. The iPhone's lone current provider in Canada, Rogers, has spent $999.3 million for 59 licenses nationwide and primarily intends to use it for national wireless broadband access. Bell and Telus have spent lesser amounts on 54 and 59 licenses respectively and are likely to offer competing data networks.
The Canadian federal government itself pockets $4.2 billion and is being urged by political action groups and existing carriers, including Telus, to use the profits from the deal to expand high-speed Internet access into remote areas that are normally forced to use very limited connections, such as much of Nunavut and the other northern territories.