UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS
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Quebec-based carrier Vidéotron has scored wireless licences in the 700 megahertz spectrum in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta, creating potential for it to become Canada’s fourth carrier.
Telecom firms will pay $5.27 billion to gain access to wireless spectrum, Industry Minister James Moore said Wednesday, announcing the results of the auction.
The big three telecom firms — Bell, Rogers and Telus — each gained access to the spectrum across Canada, but more significantly there will be four carriers in each region. EastLink, MTS and Sasktel also bought spectrum.
The new spectrum will result in better, stronger cellular signals that work in places such as elevators, basements and parking garages. It also will carry more data, at lower cost to the carriers, which Moore said should result in lower costs to consumers.
“This wireless auction is a clear win for Canadians,” he said.
The Conservative government has said it wants to improve the quality of service and reduce the prices charged to consumers by introducing more competition in wireless.
But hopes that American carrier Verizon would bid on the new spectrum were dashed last fall, when it didn’t enter a bid. And Wind Mobile, a small carrier which had hoped to boost its coverage across the country, dropped out of the auction after it failed to get financing.
The addition of Vidéotron , owned by Quebecor, as a carrier outside of Quebec opens the door to create a player who can compete on the scale of the big three.
Companies are obliged to use the spectrum or lose access to it, Moore said.
The previous auction in 2008 raised $4.3 billion for federal coffers and saw the addition of several new wireless companies.
Another auction for wireless licences for the 2,500 megahertz band is set for April 2015.
The government has put rules in place for that auction that caps on how much 2,500 megahertz spectrum companies can own, a move Ottawa says will largely shut out Rogers and Bell because they already own large chunks of it.
Moore has also said legislation is coming on roaming rates that big telecom companies charge their small rivals for using their cellphone networks.
An announcement is also in the works on forcing telecom companies to use the spectrum they haven't deployed, or face losing it.
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