Canada announces details of 700MHz auction applicants

Some 15 companies have tendered applications to bid for 700MHz spectrum in an auction scheduled for January 2014, said Canada’s government this week.

The list of prospective bidders includes the country’s three incumbent operators as well as new entrant Wind Mobile (Toronto, Canada).

However, the list of candidates includes no foreign entities despite long-running speculation that Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA) was looking to enter the Canadian market through a potential takeover of a small operator and likely participation in the frequency sale.

Some 15 companies have tendered applications to bid for 700MHz spectrum in an auction scheduled for January 2014, said Canada’s government this week.

The list of prospective bidders includes the country’s three incumbent operators as well as new entrant Wind Mobile (Toronto, Canada).

However, the list of candidates includes no foreign entities despite long-running speculation that Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA) was looking to enter the Canadian market through a potential takeover of a small operator and likely participation in the frequency sale.

Last week, Verizon Wireless was reported to have ruled itself out of bidding, along with smaller US rivals Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA) and T-Mobile US (Bellevue, WA, USA).

Although AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) had remained coy on the subject of its interest in Canadian spectrum, this week’s government announcement confirms that no US operators will participate in the frequency auction.

The news will come as relief to Rogers (Toronto, Canada), Bell Canada (Montreal, Canada) and Telus (Burnaby, Canada) – Canada’s big three operators – which had complained that frequency-auction rules were designed to favor new entrants from south of the border.

Canadian authorities have been quick to defend their policies as pro-competitive amid complaints about the dominance of the incumbent operators.

“Well before this summer’s public debate on wireless policy, our government introduced a number of measures to create more choice in Canada’s wireless market and to defend consumers,” said James Moore, Canada’s Industry Minister. “As a result, prices have come down, the number of jobs in the wireless sector has increased and consumers have more choices. This trend will continue as a result of January’s auction.”

Besides the telecoms incumbents, the list of bidders includes a number of telecoms and TV players but not Mobilicity (Vaughan, Canada), the new entrant that was cited as a potential takeover target for Verizon Wireless.

However, it does feature a player called Feenix Wireless, which is owned by John Bitove, the executive chairman of Mobilicity.

Canadian authorities expect the auction to aid the deployment of high-speed mobile networks and have said that proceedings will begin on January 14 2014.