SaskTel May Be Forced Out of the AWS-3 Wireless Spectrum Auction, Executive Says

by Istvan Fekete on August 5, 2014

A senior SaskTel official believes the wireless carrier could be squeezed out of the forthcoming AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction scheduled for March 2015 (via the Leader Post).

John Meldrum, senior vice-president of regulatory affairs and legal counsel for SaskTel, shared his concerns regarding the next spectrum auction, which aims to boost wireless competition in the Canadian mobile market.

Earlier last month, Ottawa announced that it would auction spectrum close to the AWS spectrum it licensed back in 2008. The difference between that auction and this year’s 700 MHz auction is that it will set aside 60%, or 30 MHz of airwaves, to offer to new entrants such as Wind Mobile and Mobilicity.

The remaining 20 MHz of the 50 MHz of AWS-3 wireless spectrum will be offered to the Big Three – Rogers, Telus, and Bell.

The government has set out the rules for this spectrum auction and stated that only players with less than 10% market share in the area can bid on the set-aside spectrum.

This leaves regional players such as SaskTel and MTS in competition with the incumbents for the remaining 20 MHz of spectrum. “We’re in the Big Four, I guess. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, it’s going to be four of us chasing that 20 MHz,” Meldrum said to the Leader Post.

Although this spectrum is less desirable than the 700 MHz band due to its relatively small range, it is useful, because it enables high-speed wireless service in small towns and cities.

As Meldrum pointed out, new entrants and “speculators” could make bids on the 20 MHz of available spectrum, and if there are few or no bidders for the 30 MHz spectrum in Saskatchewan, Ottawa could put the unsold spectrum in inventory and auction it off at a later date or sell it to another carrier.

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

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