Rogers spends nearly half the $3.47 billion raised by wireless spectrum auction

Canadian treasury will get nearly $3.47 billion auctioning 104 licences to Canada’s wireless networks

A pedestrian walks past the Rogers Building in Toronto on April 22, 2014. The federal government will get nearly $3.47 billion from its auction of 600 megahertz spectrum licences, which will be used by Canada’s wireless communications networks. Rogers Communications will spend $1.72 billion to acquire 52 licences, making it by far the biggest spender. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Rogers Communications will spend $1.72 billion to acquire spectrum licences from the federal government, making it by far the biggest spender in a hard-fought auction that pitted Canada’s wireless companies against each other.

The Canadian treasury will get a total of nearly $3.47 billion from auctioning 104 licences to Canada’s wireless networks, which are racing to get ready for fifth-generation technology that will roll out over a decade or so.

This year’s auction was for the 600 megahertz band of frequencies, which can cover large areas and easily penetrating buildings.

Next year’s auction will be for 3,500 MHz licences, which are even more valuable because they’re more widely used in fifth-generation networks around the world.

Canada’s three national carriers were only allowed to bid on 64 of the available licences in this year’s auction because of restrictions imposed by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

READ MORE: Canadian tech group seeks to accelerate development of secure ‘internet of things’

ISED Minister Navdeep Bains said some of the licences were set aside for smaller carriers in order to stimulate competition which, he said, will bring down consumer prices.

“I’m confident this strategy — in the short, medium and long-term — will benefit consumers.”

He said the money from the auction will be added to the federal government’s general revenue incrementally over the life of the licences — generally 20 years.

Rogers won 52 of the licences it was eligible to bid on, covering territorial blocks in southern and northern Ontario, northern Quebec, Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and the three territories.

“This spectrum is vital to the deployment of 5G in Canada and we are well-positioned to bring the very best of 5G to Canadians,” Rogers chief executive Joe Natale said in a statement.

“We went into this auction with a clear, disciplined plan and seized this opportunity for the benefit of our customers and shareholders.”

Telus Corp. spent $931.2 million for 12 licences, making it the second-biggest spender in the 600 megahertz auction.

Freedom Mobile — which operates networks in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — spent nearly $492 million for 11 licences in its territories, making it the third-highest spender overall.

The CEO of Shaw Communications, which owns Freedom, said it’s becoming a true alternative to the incumbents.

“The addition of this 600 MHz low band spectrum will not only vastly improve our current LTE service but will also serve as a foundational element of our 5G strategy providing innovative and affordable wireless services to Canadians for years to come,” Brad Shaw said in a statement.

Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron — which operates in Quebec — spent $255.8 million. The rest of the licences went to a number of smaller companies, including Bragg (Eastlink), TBayTel, SaskTel, and Xplornet.

BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada — owner of one of the three national wireless businesses — said it decided not to acquire any of the available licences.

“Given the supply of other low-band spectrum that Bell already possesses, 600 MHz is not required for Bell to deliver broadband 4G and 5G services,” it said in a statement.

The company noted that its main U.S. peers have also chosen not to own any 600 MHz spectrum in their markets.

“Bell looks forward to participating in upcoming federal auctions of the mid band 3500 MHz and high band millimetre wave spectrum that will be required to drive the fifth generation of wireless,” said Stephen Howe, Bell’s chief technology officer.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vavenby resident working at refuge witnesses volcano eruption

By Robyn Rexin Twenty-seven-year-old Vavenby resident Vienna Moilliet is working as a… Continue reading

Back in time

55 YEARS AGO: A toboggan party was enjoyed by the Teen Town… Continue reading

Clearwater’s North Thompson Complex packed with Winterfest fun

By K.A. Pendergrast Friday, Jan.17 helped kick off the Clearwater Hockey Days/Winterfest… Continue reading

Literacy Week coming to Clearwater with lots of reading-related events

Clearwater will be celebrating Family Literacy Week (Jan. 26 to Feb. 2)… Continue reading

Don’t be surprised to see Vikings in Wells Gray

The Vikings are coming to Clearwater. On Feb. 1, the Wells Gray… Continue reading

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read