Small and regional providers win 5G spectrum in Canada

Canada concluded the 3500 MHz spectrum auction on 23 July 2021. The minister of innovation, science and industry announced that as intended, small and regional providers increased their spectrum holdings. The minister thus expects that Canadians will benefit from higher-quality telecom services at competitive prices as a result of the auction. The total proceeds from the auction amount to CAD 8.9bn. The licenses will be awarded for 20 years.

Auction in numbers

In total, 23 applicants participated in the auction. Of these, 15 were the winners. However, the big three mobile operators, Rogers, Bell and Telus, will eat the biggest slice of the cake.

The applicants competed for unpaired blocks of 10 MHz offered in each of the 172 service areas. That made a total of 1,504 available licences. The fifteen lucky ones won 1,495 of them. More than a half – 757 licences – will go to small and regional providers across the country.

The 5G auction in Canada started on 15 June and ended on 23 July after 103 bidding rounds. The organiser set the opening bid for all available spectrum at CAD 590m. The total proceeds grew to the final amount of CAD 8.9bn.

Winning bidders have until 13 August to pay 20% of their total final payment. The remaining 80% is due on 4 October.

Small and regional providers

The minister o innovation, science and industry, who is responsible for spectrum management, set aside 50 MHz for small and regional providers to enhance competition, including in rural and remote regions.

In all 172 service areas, there is now at least one small or regional provider holding the spectrum. Together, these small and regional providers have increased their total mobile spectrum holdings by over 50%.

Auction format

The minister chose to organise the auction in a two-stage clock auction format. This provides a simultaneous multiple-round allocation (clock) stage to determine the quantity of generic blocks won in each product. Then, the allocation stage followed to determine the specific frequency assignment for each winner.

You can find more on our spectrum auction consulting services here.

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