Videotron Wants New Rules on Upcoming Spectrum Auction

by Jordan Richardson on June 2, 2011

The upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction couldn’t be bigger for the landscape of Canada’s telecommunications industry. Companies have been jockeying for position for months, attempting to place themselves at the lead of the line or, at the very least, trying to shift the playing field to their respective advantages.

Videotron is the latest company to throw its own set of suggestions into the ring, with Robert Depatie using his address at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto to make his point.

While the established telecommunications giants want the auction to be free and open as per usual, Videotron and some of the new entrants want new rules to ensure that they can get their hands on some of the sweet spectrum. The rules for the auction haven’t been written yet and Videotron wants to put a cap on how much spectrum the big guns can buy up.

According to Videotron, carriers like BCE Inc. and Telus should be limited to bidding on a single 700 MHz block of spectrum. These giants already own 800 MHz spectrum anyway.

Canada’s new Industry Minister Christian Paradis said that he’s weighing out the options as to how to proceed. Industry Canada handles the spectrum auctions and will decide on rules to dish out the good stuff. With demands for more spectrum through the roof thanks to the exploding wireless sector, this auction will be especially important. For new carriers, it means the potential to expand wireless network capabilities. For established providers, it means more customers.

Interest in the 700 MHz spectrum is incredibly high because of its capability of moving call volumes through structures like buildings and the like. With the new carriers largely based in metropolitan areas, the 700 MHz spectrum is particularly valuable.

Rogers executives opposed any sort of new rules, as expected, and Telus chimed in with a warning that any bias toward new entrants could result in a hampering of rural roll-outs. The essential tactic here is to use buying power to muscle in on the auction and snap up the spectrum. It’s not a particularly unreasonable stance on its face, but clearly the games and the threats continue.

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