Public Mobile will be throwing its hat in the ring in the upcoming Canadian wireless spectrum auction.
Previously, the upstart wireless carrier told investors and analysts that it had no intentions of participating in the auction. They suggested that the cost would be too high and that the exorbitant mobile broadband network, dubbed “beachfront property” by auction watchers, was not necessary to their business model.
Things have changed since that February announcement, however, and Public Mobile has revised its plans to meet the growing demands on data on its smartphones. The popularity of the devices among its customer base means that new services are required to meet those demands.
CEO Alek Krstajic confirmed his company’s participation in the auction at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I think there is a very, very good play for new entrants. So yes, I think you will see us in the 700 MHz auction,” he said. “What were are trying to do right now is understand what blocks we want to go after, what kind of budget we think we need to put together and so on.”
The change in tune came after Public Mobile reviewed Ottawa’s policies and rules on the spectrum auction and explored its rivals’ plans. Mobilicity plans on getting involved, too, while WIND Mobile has been relatively guarded about its participation in the auction.
The 700MHz auction represents prime opportunity for Canada’s mobile carriers, as this low frequency spectrum is best suited for smartphones and tablet computers. Because more and more Canadians are turning away from voice communications and to data usage, this spectrum can help meet the needs of that sector.
45 percent of the Canadian mobile market is comprised of smartphones – and that number is only expected to grow. Even low-end consumers are munching up data in significant numbers and carriers have been rushing to keep up.
“I thought the talk-and-text model, which is what that was, would last us for three or four years. Very quickly we realized the market is moving quickly and we started to launch data services,” Krstajic said.
Another part of Public Mobile’s plan going forward is the launch of Siren, an unlimited mobile music service. Siren is only available on Android devices and is similar to iTunes in that music is stored on the mobile device after a download. Siren is based on Public Mobile’s flat-rate service plans, however, and differs from other pay-per-song models.
With Siren and other plans in the works for Public Mobile, the spectrum auction takes in special importance. Putting their best foot forward to meet growing data demands is really the only way to compete in Canada’s tough and rather lopsided mobile market.