Foreign Telcos to Bid on Wireless Spectrum?

by Istvan Fekete on September 16, 2013

The Big Three have launched an aggressive media campaign against Ottawa’s wireless policy, a most timely matter in the light of the forthcoming wireless spectrum auction. With Verizon withdrawing the application it never submitted, it remains to be seen whether the incumbents have spent millions of marketing-dollar that you, dear Canadian wireless subscribers, need to pay back, or if the country will see other foreign telecoms bidding on the auction. And Canadians will see whether the wireless landscape will change to bring more benefits for them, or if it will remain the same — some say it’s competitive enough.

According to information obtained by BNN.ca, at least three foreign telcos aside from Verizon have expressed their willingness to bid for wireless spectrum in Canada. And here are their names: Vodafone, AT&T and Norway’s Telenor.

We have seen the media buzz around Verizon’s potential entrance into the Canadian mobile game. The US’ No. 1 carrier has more than 100 million subscribers and a pocket deep enough to invest $3 billion to create its own wireless network, but as we have already reported, it has struck an important deal with Vodafone. This has kept the company off Canadian soil, at least for now.

BNN has learned that another foreign telco was interested in bidding on the forthcoming wireless spectrum auction, but was counseled not to bother. But we don’t know the company’s identity.

The deadline for registration is September 17, but the identities of the bidders won’t be made public until September 23. We don’t know if any of the aforementioned three possible bidders has serious plans in Canada. Maybe the aggressive campaign of the Big Three has scared them off.

The campaign sought to convince the public that Verizon’s entrance into the local wireless market would harm consumers. They also targeted Ottawa, urging the government to rescind the foreign ownership rules they say give outsiders an unfair advantage bidding on wireless spectrum.

Verizon’s “withdrawal”, or the lack of foreign telco interest, is a relief to investors, but the picture looks totally different from the consumer’s perspective. We will see in about a week if anything changes.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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