By Alastair Sharp and Euan Rocha
TORONTO Feb 18 The Canadian government
confirmed on Tuesday that it has completed an auction of prized
wireless spectrum and will reveal those results on Wednesday.
The 700 megahertz spectrum, which is valued for its ability
to carry a signal over long distances and to penetrate
buildings, will be used by Canada's big wireless companies and
some smaller ones to build more powerful mobile networks.
Canada's Industry Minister James Moore, in a brief statement
late on Tuesday, said the results would be announced in Ottawa
at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) on Wednesday, confirming an earlier
Reuters report that the auction had ended and results were
When the auction kicked off last month, the withdrawal of
one smaller player led to expectations that bidding would be
But Dvai Ghose, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said on
Tuesday he expects the auction to bring in more than C$2.5
billion ($2.3 billion) for Ottawa.
Ghose said he understood that leading wireless company
Rogers Communications Inc had to pay more than
initially expected to secure the airwaves it desired and that
Quebecor Inc's Videotron had bid on airwaves outside
of its French-speaking home base of Quebec.
Ghose's assumptions, based on his own industry checks, were
echoed by one other equity analyst and an industry source, who
spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive
nature of the process.
Rogers and Quebecor did not immediately respond to request
for comment on their bidding strategies. But as bidders, the
firms are barred from such discussion under the auction rules.
LATE WITHDRAWAL BY WIND
The airwaves auction was expected to bring in between C$1.5
billion and C$1.8 billion for the government, telecom analysts
had estimated, following the late withdrawal of a key player,
the upstart Wind Mobile, after its main backer Vimpelcom Ltd
The bidders included dominant national wireless providers
Rogers, Telus Corp and BCE Inc's Bell as well as
regional operators focused on the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan and elsewhere.
The auction split the country into 14 regions, with seven
spectrum blocks in each. But four of those blocks were most
coveted because they are aligned with U.S. airwaves used by AT&T
Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.
Rogers, Bell, and Telus were restricted to bidding on one of
those prime blocks apiece in each region, part of a government
plan to encourage more competition in the industry.
Ottawa will hold another auction, for airwaves in the 2,500
MHz range, next year and is also moving to force telecom
companies to offer domestic roaming to rivals at the same price
they offer it to their own customers.
Separate from the auction, the federal government must also
at some point decide whether to allow Telus or another company
to acquire struggling Mobilicity, and whether Rogers can also
buy airwaves that Quebecor and Shaw Communications
acquired in a 2008 auction but never used.