WIND Mobile and Public Mobile are threatening to boycott the upcoming spectrum auction. We’ve already heard from WIND Mobile along these lines before, as Guarav Kheterpal reported in November of 2011. WIND threatened to sit out of the auction unless some of the prime 700 MHz airwaves were set aside for new carriers.
“We’re not suicidal,” WIND’s Anthony Lacavera said Monday to expand on the point. “We’re not going to go out and try to bid on something we have zero chance of winning.” Smaller companies will be outbid by the established players like Rogers, Bell and Telus. Competition certainly wouldn’t be fostered in that type of environment, says Lacavera.
This time, Public Mobile has joined WIND in calling for equity in the spectrum auctions.
“If the rules are structured in a way that you can’t reasonably compete and have a fair chance of winning spectrum, it’s not worth spending the money to go into it,” Bruce Kirby, vice-president of strategy and business development for Public M said. “What we won’t be able to do is build rural areas. You will end up being constrained in terms of the size of the market that you can effectively address.”
The actual date of the auction hasn’t been set yet, but it’s expected to go down at some point later this year or in early 2013. Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis should be announcing the official “rules” for the auction at some point in the coming weeks and the companies will begin to jockey for position of the far-reaching airwaves. The auction will shape the future of competition in Canada’s troubled telecommunications industry.
“Without that competition, Bell, Rogers and Telus will never even contemplate offering smaller markets and rural areas the kind of plans they now offer precisely where the new entrants compete against them,” Kirby said.
Some of the big companies have spoken out about potential auction rules already. Rogers has predictably stated that it is against any “special treatment” for the new carriers, while Telus has proposed a plan that involves spectrum caps.
Also in the mix is the issue of foreign ownership. While the influx of some foreign cash could help some smaller providers get more out of the spectrum auction, it’s doubtful that any meaningful legislation will be pushed in time.