TORONTO — Ottawa has raised $2.11 billion in its latest auction of wireless spectrum.
Federal Industry Minister James Moore says five companies were successful bidders in the auction of AWS-3 wireless airwaves across the country.
“The winning bidders now have more spectrum to deliver next-generation services and devices and to improve the services they offer Canadians,” Moore said in a news conference Friday.
“New competitors, on average, have increased their spectrum holdings by 107 per cent. This is key for ongoing and future competition in Canada’s wireless world.”
Ottawa has been attempting to boost competition in the wireless market, but the smaller, new companies have struggled while the big three companies — Bell, Rogers and Telus — continue to represent 90 per cent of the market.
The federal government reserved 60 per cent of the available spectrum in the AWS-3 auction for smaller carriers, while the remaining 40 per cent was available to all bidders.
Telus (TSX:T) was the biggest buyer, paying over $1.5 billion for 15 licences, while Bell Mobility (TSX:BCE) paid nearly $500 million for 13 licences.
Among the small players, Wind Mobile paid $56.4 million for three licences, while Videotron (TSX:QBR.B) paid $31.8 million for four licences. Bragg Communications, which operates EastLink in Atlantic Canada, paid nearly $10 million for four licences.
Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B), the biggest buyer in the 700 megahertz spectrum auction last year, did not win any licences this time.
A second spectrum auction covering higher-end 2,500 MHz spectrum used in rural communities is scheduled for April 14.
In the 2,500 MHz spectrum, Ottawa has placed caps on how much spectrum companies can own, a move that it has said will largely shut out Rogers and Bell because they already own large chunks of it.
Wind Mobile is also seeking to participate in that auction which will take place in April.
Bell, Rogers and Telus – have also applied to participate as well as a number of smaller regional companies.