By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO Jan 13 Globalive's Wind Mobile said it has withdrawn from Canada's 700 megahertz wireless spectrum auction, due to start on Tuesday, after its main backer, Vimpelcom Ltd, decided not to fund Wind's participation.
The move all but assures that the country's biggest telecommunications providers, BCE Inc's Bell, Rogers Communications Inc and Telus Corp - will take the lion's share of the limited resource.
It also puts Wind, which has 650,000 customers mostly in the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, in a difficult spot as operators gobble up the airwaves needed to support booming demand for mobile data such as video streaming.
"In order to continue offering real choice for Canadian consumers and businesses long term, Wind needs more wireless spectrum which is the real estate of our business, so it is very unfortunate Wind is unable to participate in the 700 Mhz auction," Wind Chief Executive Officer Anthony Lacavera said in a statement.
Globalive is owned by Vimpelcom and Lacavera. The CEO maintains voting control after the Conservative federal government blocked Vimpelcom's request to take control.
The 700 MHz spectrum on the block is particularly prized for its ability to carry a signal over long distances and to penetrate thick walls, making it useful for both urban and rural deployment.
The Conservatives sought to usher in more wireless competition via a previous auction in 2008 in which some airwaves were set aside for new entrants.
While prices have since fallen, new entrants such as Wind have failed to win much share away from the biggest players.