Poll: How should the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction be structured?

Ian Hardy

November 18, 2011 9:11 am


There’s a great deal of pressure on Christian Paradis these days. In May he took over from Tony Clement and was appointed the Minister of Industry, formally he was the Minister of Natural Resources, and now he’s found himself in the middle of the most important wireless topic in years. The 700MHz band is incredibly critical to the future of Canadian telecommunications – some experts call this the “beachfront property”, or “Cadillac” of spectrum and will efficiently help roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in Canada. The 700MHz is cheaper for carriers to deploy and can easily reach remote areas (with less sites), plus has the ability to penetrate through thick walls in buildings, thus reducing dead spots.

From a government perspective, they want to rake in as much cash as they can. In 2008, after 331 rounds of bidding, the government successfully sold 292 licences for $4,254,710,327. At the time analysts were predicting the auction would raise $2 billion, but became heated when a spectrum “set-aside” was announced for new entrants, such as WIND Mobile, Mobilicity, Videotron and Public Mobile. The goal was “to achieve lower prices, better service and more choice for consumers and business”.

Over the past few years prices have fallen, both in handsets and monthly rate plans. Subscriber number have increased across the board – Canada now has approximately 25 million wireless subscribers. The leader is Rogers with 9,288,000 wireless customers, Bell has 7,369,596, and TELUS has 7.2 million. Our “new” entrants, WIND Mobile has 358,000 subscribers, Public has over 150,000, and Mobilicity hasn’t made their subs known.

Our Canadian carriers all want in on the upcoming 700MHz auction, the Big 3 have said they want an open auction with no set-asides. George Cope, President and CEO of Bell, said that an “open auction ensures roll-out of rural and urban LTE”. In addition, Rob Bruce, President, Communications for Rogers, stated that putting any “Restrictions on the 700 MHz band auction would be unfair to our nine million wireless customers who have every right to access a truly national, robust LTE network in both urban and rural markets”.

Our new entrants clearly don’t want to be left out of LTE and passionately want a set-aside. Mobilicity and WIND have been the most outspoken on this issue. John Bitove, Mobilicity Chairman, recently said that “For years, Canada’s Big Three ‘tri-opoly’ have been acting like squirrels preparing for a 50-year winter. They hoard spectrum to keep others from giving consumers an affordable choice and Canadians have been paying the price for their self-serving interests for far too long”. Meanwhile, Naguib Sawiris, WIND Mobile’s financial backer, who has $500 million to invest in the 700MHz says “Our position is clear: if they don’t set aside, we won’t bid for it — why would we go in and just increase the price so the government makes more money and we get devastated”. Paradis said that he hopes to make a decision on the 700 MHz spectrum auction structure “before the end of the year”.

We’ve heard both sides of the story. The government will auction off spectrum to make money. All the carriers are in business to bring on subscribers and make money… but what about us consumers, the people who will actually be using the spectrum? What do we want? “Open and fair”, or a “set-aside” for the newer carriers? Have your say below… it’ll be open until November 30th.

Poll: How should the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction be structured?

View Results

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  • Douglas

    New entrants need an opportunity to allow other companies to flourish and continue to influence lower prices and better service for all Canadians. It has worked before with the AWS spectrum and this new auction will do even more. I hope Minister Paradis makes the right choice for the set-aside.

  • Matt

    Big three sit on enough wireless spectrum as it is. If they’re truly interested in rolling out LTE they can use the spectrum they already own. Problem solved.

    • Obstacle-Man

      No company should own spectrum. It should be leased.

    • Richard

      1) Gov’t (aka We, supposedly) should own the spectrum exposure to EM in the spectrum affects us all.
      2) Spectrum should not be owned by private companies.
      3) Gov’t should also dictate wht frequencies ar eto be used to deliver what service.
      4) Having the same service delivered on differing frequencies complicates the radio set required, increases power consumption by the radio sets, increases handset costs and contrubutes to NON-interoperatibility across carriers while facilitating carrier lock-in. This is the problem with LTE Today.
      5) The ability to penetrate walls is not necessarily a good thing. In some cases you may wish to have the ability to create an EM Free zone like in your house.
      6) I believe that in England the Gov’t onws the tower Infrastructure and the carriers pay for access time on them to deliver service. I like this mode better because it is more like the Interstate Highwway System NOT being owned by any individual trucking companies, this encourages a level playing field.

  • bob

    Undecided. When I see companies like Shaw buying spectrum but not using it, I would almost prefer fair and open auctions…

    • bob

      We must also realize that set aside is a form of subsidy for the new entrants. And that this time there won’t be spectrum for everyone.

    • Copolii

      An open auction means douchebags like Robbers Wireless can buy everything at high prices and leave the new entrants with nothing. New entrants don’t have the deep pockets that the big 3 do.
      What do you think will happen to your prices if the thieves at Rogers have to pay twice as much for the spectrum? You pay twice as much too.

  • Slype

    @ Douglas

    I agree – the last ‘set aside’ was a success in that it forced the collusive Big Three to drop their prices to attempt to compete with the new entrants.

    An extra $2 billion dollars for the Canadian government is peanuts when compared to the amount of money people will have to pay if the Big Three get their hands on this exclusively and you know they have the deep pockets to drive the price up as high as they want and block the new entrants from receiving any. If that happens, the prices for LTE will forever remain high and Canada will fall behind in adoption of new technologies. Bell, Rogers and Telus have been insulated long enough.

    I would love to see them try to compete on global scale. Why? Because it would be nice to see them humbled and destroyed by pretty much every other carrier that has to compete in an open market. They need some humble pie in a bad way because we Canadians are the ones who pay for it.

    • aka

      You people seem to believe that infrastructure investment costs $1.99, it’s more like $1.99 Billion+. Of course the companies all will want a return on investment for not only the funds used to buy the spectrum, but also the investment in building out the network across the 2nd largest land mass and one of the lower population density on earth. They’re definitely not building out the network as a charity so you can pay $20-$30/month for unlimited everything, sheesh! I’d rather pay a little extra for quality on the latest tech, than pay less and regret it later.

  • Alex Perrier

    Set-aside. If we compare, for example:
    * $31/month with Mobilicity for unlimited everything
    * $62/month with Koodo for SMS/MMS, local calls and 100 MB

    then it’s clear that Telus Mobility makes the most profits and offers way less than Mobilicity. i could mention a retentions plan, but that really defeats the purpose. Even with Mobilicity’s pricing doubling after the first year, that’s still a good deal, and people can downgrade.

    Overall, my point is that the Big 3 are making more profits, whereas smaller carriers, especially Mobilicity, aren’t making nearly as much. The first auction had set-asides that allowed these companies to exist in the first place. Let’s keep it this way, and stand up for Canadians.

    • Alex Perrier

      i’ve added taxes to both examples above. It’s the $55 plan for Mobilicity, 50% off the first year, versus City Koodo + features pack + Data Saver for Telus’ Koodo brand.

  • Obstacle-Man

    The best approach for consumers would be if the government charged a license fee from the telecoms. Don’t auction it off to whoever bids the spectrum is worth more than a one time payment.

  • David

    I was looking for the “Reserved for new entrants only” option.

  • Matt

    Trust me, whether you’re with the Big 3 or you’re with the new entrants, allowing Rogers, Bell and Telus to hoard even more wireless spectrum is going to hurt EVERYONE. If they own LTE entirely there will be no reason to offer fair pricing as there will be no competition from the new entrants. The Big 3 can survive without 700MHz (it didn’t stop them from launching LTE in Canada’s major cities), but Canada cannot afford to let them hoard more spectrum.

    So they lose 700MHz. Who cares? They’ll use the billions of dollars they make annually to put up more cell towers and utilize the LTE spectrum they already have. You think losing 700MHz is going to stop them from expanding LTE across the country? It’s not. Roger’s campaign for an “open auction” is a farce!

  • schultzter

    Something I don’t understand, all these frequencies (PCS, AWS, and now 700 Mhz) mean new equipment in the towers and new phones. I still don’t see Robelus offering any AWS handsets or supporting bring-your-own AWS handset. So what did they do with the spectrum they got during the last auction?

    Now that Wind, Mobilicity, etc. have their networks setup with AWS spectrum what are they going to do with 700 Mhz spectrum?

    What is anyone going to do with this spectrum?

    Keep the auction “open & fair”, but require each bid to come with an implementation plan – and if you don’t implement the plan you loose the spectrum or pay a fine until it’s implemented!!!

    • shoo

      I suspect they’d set up an LTE of their own and possibly use the same handsets as AT&T and VERIZON LTE devices modified to work on AWS HSPA.

  • Nelz

    Set-aside for new entrants

    Anyway the market will decide after, if new entrants are not getting enough customers (enough using their spectrum) they will go bankrupt and one of the big 3 will buy it with their spectrum like Rogers done with Fido.

  • Manbo

    Just to play devils advocate here, why should the spectrum be limited to new entrants? Why shouldn’t it be available to companies that provide the service to the majority of the country? End result is, the new entrants are not really having a big impact, maybe 500,000 subscribers between them compared to minimum 7,000,000 for each of the big 3? I agree that allowing the 700mhx spectrum to go to the new guys (obviously Wind in this case) would assist in them (likely) increasing their service area, but as you can see, the majority of Canadians will stick with the brands they know (Rogers, Telus, Bell). As I have said previously, there should be a clause stating the spectrum would have to be implemented within a specific time frame or else the winning company forfeits the rights to the spectrum would ensure a fair shot for all. maybe that’s just me though.

    • abc123

      reason why people are not going to Wind is:

      1. they have not heard of them.
      2. Coverage. AWS has some serious penetration and coverage issues. The 700Mhz will make it exponentially better.
      3. High cost of entrance. You lose your old phone, you have to get a new phone… transfer all info over and learn how to use the new phone.
      4. Handset selection for Wind and Mobilicity suck.
      5. NO IPHONE on the new entrants.

      As soon as the new entrants get a piece of the 700Mhz, it will mean iPhone LTE (when it comes out), coverage issues will be resolved and with their aggressive pricing it will put them on a level playing field with each other.

  • northy

    sell it to whoever,,, with conditions,, if not used within a certian timeline ,, to bad so sad, it gets taken away …

    btw,,, thats a kewl picture,,,,

    • Joe

      1)The new entrants want competition in the wireless industry

      2) The new entrants want to aquire their specturm at a cut cost and not have to compete in a fair auction.

      I could also offer reduced rates if I payed half the price for some of my inputs. Tony and Dave are clowns and are trying scam there way into making money. Its like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Meshach David

    Your monthly plans with Robelus went down because of the new entrants. Forget about LTE and just give me affordable cell phone rates. Even if Robelus rolls out LTE, noone is gonna be able to afford it. So what’s the point? Set aside spectrum for the new entrants, and we’ll worry about LTE when there are phones that can actually handle it, and don’t need to be charged every four hours.

  • Faffy

    I feel like there’s a lot of questions that we as consumers need answered.

    Does anyone actually know what spectrum Rogers, Bell, and Telus own? I’m curious because my Google searches keeps pulling up references to these companies hoarding spectrum, but not actually which ones they are hoarding. I know that not all spectrum is equal – e.g. 1700 frequency is worse in terms of transmitting voice than 850. So if Rogers, Bell, and Telus own technically similar spectrum already, my gut instinct would be to give the new entrants the set-aside. Rogers, Bell, and Telus’ history of inaction with purchased spectrum speak for themselves.

    What about the global perspective? Canada’s a small market and our incumbents have typically followed the lead of American carriers. If we make this auction a set-aside, would that be a significant break from tradition? How would this ultimately affect Canadian consumers’ choice of wireless devices and service? What are the possible scenarios?

    It’s frustrating as a member of the general public at how limited the coverage on this issue has been. Most of what we’ve heard is mainly repeated propaganda from all the companies involved. The media needs to do a better job of presenting the issues at stake here.

    • Josh

      I like the idea of establishing rules on implementations of the spectrum that has been bought and possibly charging a fine, then forfeiting the spectrum to be auctioned off again. regardless if it is a newcomer or already established provider. personally i would prefer the smaller companies to do well and flourish because we all know that they will use what they acquire unlike the big three.

    • shoo

      Robellus all own significant chunks of 850/1900. They also own huge chunks of AWS after the auction in 2008.

  • Greg Marks

    How about “setting aside” the portion of the 700MHz range already in use by professional wireless microphones and in-ear monitoring systems? Thousands of struggling musicians and theatres have been using this range for over a decade, and now we’ll have to purchase all new equipment so the wireless companies can get richer. I can’t speak for every musician, but I have about $3000 tied up in soon-to-be illegal wireless microphones, and I can’t afford to replace any of it on my income. Unless the Big 3 want put some of their profits into buying new gear for me and my colleagues across Canada, it won’t matter how the auction is structured; we’ll still lose.

    • bob

      Well, you were also illegal in the past because that spectrum was used for UHF TV channels 52-69.

    • Greg Marks

      Actually, it wasn’t illegal, and operated in segments of the 700Mhz range not used for TV previously. Remember, the 700Mhz range was spread from 698MHz to 806MHz, and the former TV channels only used a limited portion of that bandwidth, leaving white space between channels. Besides, wireless mics have a range of ~250 feet – much lower power than over-the-air TV. In all the years I used wireless mics, I never encountered any interference with or from TV signals; if there were a conflict, the mics wouldn’t have worked! Furthermore, the companies making the mics had to have permission to use the frequencies – legally you can’t sell a product that interferes with TV signals – or they couldn’t have sold them here. You will note most mics operated in a different range in the UK and Europe because of differences in the TV broadcast frequencies.

      The range has already been sold in the US, so anybody touring with old gear is already screwed. Wireless microphone companies did nothing to back up the musicians/actors/etc. (whose unions came out in force to lobby against the sale), because they knew they’d get to sell a whole new generation of mics at inflated prices. Once again, the rich get richer…

  • MER1978

    What have the Big 3 done with the spectrum they just recently bought?

    If they haven’t done anything obviously they only bought in to block competition and consequently they probably don’t deserve any access to new frequencies until they either do something with what they have or give it back.

    • DD

      The BIG3 launched LTE. Thats what they did with there spectrum???

    • Alpha

      Thing is that the Big3 DO use their spectrum. They have a tower at their corporate office in the spectrum range for their “QC” people and executive to “test out” new, high-end devices using this spectrum. Therefore, it’s in use.

      No, Joe Blow doesn’t get access to it, but it’s in use in a very narrow definition of the word. For this privilege, you get to pay a $9.95/month 700mhz/Spectrum hoarding fee.

  • David Dee

    It shocks me reading Rob Bruce of Rogers’ quote about the potential of not being fair to Rogers’s 9 million customers through an allocation of some new spectrum to the new entrants only. Mr. Bruce, I would like to continue your point on fairness to your 9 million customers:

    – Is it fair to charge exorbitant cancellation penalties, well in excess of any subsidies provided, for early termination of contracts?
    – Is it fair that foreign participants are limited in their ability to invest in Canadian telecom and therefore provide some players with a grossly unfair advantage in an industry that requires significant capital investment?
    – Is it fair to charge your 9 million customers a $35 activation fee on top of any hardware charges for the pleasure of purchasing a new device from you?

    Mr Bruce, I am going to tell you what’s fair. A freely competitive market with global access to capital where competitors can construct truly competitive national mobile networks. Multi-year commitments where cancellation penalties do not exceed the value of subsidies.

    With this truly fair environment in place, how many of Rogers’ 9 million customers would accept the status quo, relish their providers’ “fairness” and choose to stay on board given the removal of anti-competitive, artificial barriers to exit?

    • DD

      The Big3’s new activation numbers across the board seem to suggest the consumer is and appears to be quite happy to come on board; dispute your well stated indifferences. So either they are marketing genuises creating false delusions of need (iPhone)or we as consumers are moronic i****s.

  • MikeMike

    Even though I am a Rogers customer and have been for a very long time, I want the new entrants to have the 700MHz spectrum and have a chance.

    My reception is fine everywhere I go and, yea it doesnt hurt to have even better reception, but I really don’t think the ‘Big 3′ need this spectrum at all.

    • KAJENIUS

      850 750 same pretty much the same ish.. and roger is already sitting on over 200mhz to service 7 millions subs

  • Terry

    The ultimate solution is to not just auction off ANY of the airwaves and just charge the companies every month to use it.

    There’s be no hoarding, no company would have massive control, and competition get access to airwaves at a reasonable price.

    Course, this is Canada we’re talking about, and slowly and surely we’re selling out or infrastructure and country to private companies.

  • Chuck

    IMO new entrants didn’t forced the big 3 to lower their charges… particularly in Quebec where Videotron is nowhere cheaper than them.

  • Dylan K

    Section off the auction in direct relation to the growth of the subscriber base for that specific company. It’s an idea.

    Also curious, isn’t the 700MHz waveband used for LTE? Since when did Wind/Mobilicity/ect have a use for LTE when they provide such underpriced and outdated hardware? (for the most part, they’re starting to offer high end BB and Droid devices now)

    • DD

      Wind and Mobilicity can offer LTE in their current spectrum depending how you define LTE speeds. The 700MHZ band offers exception propagation and in building penatration. Its propagation qualities would bring as I say exceptional coverage to rural Canada.

  • Marcus B

    I always thought it was the government that should build out the LTE network and then let the telecom’s rent space on that network. That way the entire country gets one standard network and all the companies get fair access to that network. Source of income for the government too which could go to reducing my income tax.

  • joe

    it needs to be smart set aside, such as new entrants should buy it together and build it and share it, should also require rural built within 3-4 years.Incumbents should show they need spectrum. We CANNOT do this under the threat set by Wind’s CEO, this guy is NOT honest, makes me laugh when he says we created 1000 new jobs, the truth is that most of them are retail or call center ( those Jobs are gone) in exchange the telecom industry lost over 3000 Management jobs in the last two years… Who wins ? Bell, Telus and Rogers let go thousands of people, most of those people salary brackets was way over 60K a year…

  • deltatux

    Set aside, if the government doesn’t set aside the spectrum, then ROBELUS would just hog it all. They can already deploy LTE through AWS. The new entrants need the former analog TV band (700 MHz) to deploy their own LTE.

    We need more affordable wireless, not less. The government need to ensure that the new entrants survive and not be bullied by the incumbents. They need to level the playing field and fix their old wrongs by pampering them.

  • Louis

    David against Goliath.

    Gov’t has to help David or Goliath?

    Hmmm tough call huh?

  • Ed

    Set Aside.

    Mr Christian Paradis do you want to be the person who will be remembered for killing our telecommunications market ?

    Mr Christian Paradis please be smart and do your homework on this, Set Aside will ensure that Canadians will not be held captive by Rogers, Bell ,Telus.
    Allow the this and eventually the economy will suffer and TANK as people will NOT be able to pay for basic things like food and housing.
    More Competition will mean lower prices and more people that will have Money to spend on the market to keep our Economy healthy.
    Canada is headed in the WRONG direction if it supports fewer players in the Canadian market and will eventually destroy competition and Kill our Market in the future.
    How can the GOV of Canada do this on it’s own turf? and then talk about competing Globally ?
    If Christian Paradis does that , then THAT is what he will remembered for.

  • ant6n

    How about just doing a different kind of auction. Rather than selling of slots to the highest bidder, allowing the big3 to hog it all up on the one hand; or specifically setting some spectrum aside for the ‘new guys’, one could just let everybody bid.

    In the end all bids are summed up, and spectrum is given relative to how much everybody is paying. For example if Bell bids 1 billion, Rogers bids 0.9 billion, and wind bids 100 million, then bell gets 50% of the spectrum, rogers gets 40%, and wind gets 5%.

    This would allow the new guys to spend much less money and still get _some_ spectrum. And the big3 will get diminishing returns when trying to push out the new guys – in the above example, even if bell doubled their bid, wind would still get 3.3% of the spectrum.

    If one wanted to favor the small companies, one could make it slightly non-linear. For example if one exponentiated all bids by 2/3 (i.e. x^.66), then wind would get 10% of the spectrum in the previous example, even if they only paid 5% (bell and rogers would get 46%, 43%, respectively)

  • sxo

    Rogers /Bell already bought a lot of 700 mhz spec, so they can easly have over 90% of the country in LTE but they just want more more more. It the same as rich people, they already have a lot but they still want more more more. They will do anything to get it even if they don’t need it. Rogers for example can easly expand the LTE to every single city in canada but still lie to us saying they need more spec.

    It a war for who will have the coverage for LTE.

    • techq

      You are just wrong here. The 700Mhz band was being used by TV for over the air analog broadcasts. It has not been made available until this upcoming auction. So how you can make the statement that Rogers/Bell already own portions of it is just farcical.

  • Ravi Shanghavi

    There has to be a hold back for the new entrants. The big three have been screwing us for too long. If the current spectrum had better penetration I’d have switched already. I tried Wind and Mobilicity. Wind was a bit better at my home but still didn’t work well at the office. The minute they have 700mhz I’m with them. The pricing just makes a world of difference. Here’s to hoping they get it right in Ottawa. -Ravi Shanghavi

  • benji

    i voted open and fair, so long as the incumbents are PAID BACK A LOT OF MONEY for all of the money they spent during the 80’s and 90’s on the spectrum they already bought (hey, if new entrants are getting free hand me outs, so should the guys before)

    that way, ALL OF US can BENEFIT when Rogers, Telus and Bell get more money (since ALL OF US ARE MOST LIKELY ALREADY SHAREHOLDERS OF THE ABOVE 3 COMPANIES) given that we all, for the most part, have some form of Mutual fund or RRSP that more than likely is invested in the telecom sector at some proportion.

    if WE DONT do this, then while WE WILL get cheaper plans due to the new entrants, OUR RRSP’S AND MUTUAL FUND INVESTMENTS will decline in value.

    are you willing to get a cheaper phone plan now? and then therefore have less money when you are 65+ because your investments have declined in value?

    • abc123

      You are naive.

      get a new investment manager if he/she cannot adapt to the changes in the value of the mutual funds.

      The incumbents were basically given spectrum by the government at the beginning to start up the wireless industry in Canada. So there is your “free hand me outs” for the big 3. At least, they did not pay the amounts that the AWS auction brought in. Do you think it is fair that the big 3 got preferential treatment of spectrum in an industry that was practically new and with no competition vs. the new entrants who have to bid in an open auction with much larger competitors with way more money?

  • Gilbert

    this country is a beautifully disguised dictatorship where Stephen Harper will only protect the rich

  • Kostas Kritsilas

    The spectrum at 700MHz is desirable because 700MHz will have a larger rnage per tower than the 1700-1900Mhz. It is only marginally better than the 850MHz band, though. It will also reach further into large buildings than the 1700-1900 MHz.

    All that being said, the 3 established carriers (and I lump the “brands”, Virgin, Koodo, and Fido in with the established carriers, as they are using the same networks and frequency licenses) are all sitting on unused 850MHz spectrum. Some of it is for future use/growth, but I suspect that most if it is just the carriers are just saving money. Same goes of “rural” areas, there are large areas outside of the large cities that don’t have service, even though there is 850 MHz specturm available. If the standard carriers did get all of the 700MHz spectrum, they may be as reluctant to deploy the 700MHz specturm as they have been with the 850Mhz. Also note that the original 850/1900 MHz spectrum was not auctioned off, but pretty much given away, and that the standard carriers also not only got some government support to deploy their networks, but were also, for many years, collecting System access fees, even when the networks were fully paid for.

    I am of the opinion that at least 50% of the available spectrum be allocated to the new carriers (Wind, Mobilicity, Videotron, Public, etc.). There should also be conditions applied to all of the owners of the 700MHz spectrum that service with that spectrum should be deployed at a pre-defined schedule, with coverage over a given geographic area. This will make sure that the spectrum licensees deploy the spectrum, and that the rural areas gain coverage as well. If conditions are not met, the spectrum reverts back to the government for auction again. I would even like to see that, as conditions for being allowed to bid on that they have already deployed at least 50% of the thier currently licensed bandwidth. If they haven’t, they would not be allowed to bid. as they are obviously hoarding spectrum.

    Kostas

  • Kostas Kritsilas

    Benji:

    Please allow me to point out that the original spectrum allocations to Rogers, Bell, and Telus, were NOT auctioned off, they were pretty much just given away. The amount of money that Rogers, Bell and Telus did not have to pay in comparison to what the new carriers did have to pay to get their AWS is in effect a government subsidy. Now, this happeded in the mid-late 1980s, when spectrums were not auctioned, so no issue there. But to say “so long as the incumbents are PAID BACK A LOT OF MONEY for all of the money they spent during the 80′s and 90′s on the spectrum they already bought (hey, if new entrants are getting free hand me outs, so should the guys before” is out of touch with reality. It is the established carriers who have been subsidized, and who have been charging “system access”/”system improvement”/etc. fees for years after the networks were paid for, with the approval of the Canadian goverment. Some carriers, like Rogers, still do on some plans, even if they havent’ really spent much on their network for years.

    As for “ALL OF US can BENEFIT when Rogers, Telus and Bell get more money (since ALL OF US ARE MOST LIKELY ALREADY SHAREHOLDERS OF THE ABOVE 3 COMPANIES) given that we all, for the most part, have some form of Mutual fund or RRSP that more than likely is invested in the telecom sector at some proportion.”, I am in disagreement. I want a competitive cell carrier marketplace, not the pre-new carrier situation, where all of the plans and phones were pretty much the same, just with a different logo on the phone. Wind, Mobilicity, Public, Videotron and others have pushed the established carriers into offering the “secondary” brands (Fido, Virgin, Koodo) in order to maintain their customer base. Koodo’s plans, for exmaple, were originally designed to compete with Fido, but recently seem to be more oriented towards competing with Wind. If the incumbeent carriers had chosen to compete for customers instead of just slicing up the customer base and not pursuing each othe’s customers, we would have had much lower plan costs, and I may have had more sympathy. However, your statements are basically “trickle down” economics, which is invalid. When you give the carriers more money, it just encourages them to stay fat, bloated, inefficient companies, which is what they are still, but they will need to trim down, and the way to do that is to ensure that the carriers (all of them) are actively competing for customers.

    Kostas

  • abc123

    I think the big 3 should be shut out of the 700Mhz spectrum for these reasons:

    1. They have spare spectrum available for use.
    2. They have already rolled out LTE in urban cities so they’ve proven they can do it without 700Mhz.
    3. 700Mhz vs. 850/900Mhz for rural areas. Does 150Mhz make all the difference? Why can’t they use the 850/900Mhz bands they already own?

    Given the complete BS that the CEO’s of Rogers, Bell, and Telus have said in press conferences, that alone is reason enough to shut them out of the bidding process.

    • shoo

      they cant/wont use 850 for LTE. It wouldnt make any sense since no other carrier on earth is doing that.

  • khk

    This band should not be auctioned off, but rather be made part of ISM band for the benifit of public. We got crappy parts of spectrum for Wifi/Bluetooth/ZigBee/cordless phoness.

    Google was pushing for this at a certain point in time, however, industry pressure quickly dorwned this idea. So sad :(

  • Thomas Behan

    IMHO the whole wireless spectrum should belong to a crown corporation and then the entrants should purchase rights/bandwidth from it.

    Spectrum is a limited resource and as we have seen the big telcos use their war chests to buy up all the spectrum to block new entrants.

    The problem with set aside is that it help the 3 new guys, what about 5 years from now when someone new wants to come in? All the spectrum will be gone.

  • katmandoo

    I went to a Barret Jackson Car Aution the other day. They asked me how many classic cars I owned. I said three. Umm..they said sorry we need to give someone else a chance to own a classic car. Stand over there while we partition the room. Sounds like your avocating killing free enterprise. Why not just open the doors up; if foreign ownership does not jeopradise our national security and believe me it can “Huawei” I am sure AT&T would love to acquire lets say Bell and or Telus ..thats if the land of Corporate greed allows them to gobble T-Mobile.

  • Len

    i agree with the fair market, and i understand why people want a fair and open auction, but given their way the big 3 would jack up the price of the 700mhz.

    I dont use the new guys like wind, but i agree that we need them to better cell costs for all of canadians.

    So I personally believe that we should set aside some for them.

    Heck if the case is that the big 3 want it for rural area fine, set aside some spectrium only in the metropolitian area of canada and let the big 3 go @ it for rural areas….

  • Jimmy

    I really do hope that they set aside some spectrum for the new entrants. With the amount of revenue that the Big 3 have, they would hog it all for themselves.

    Not really an ‘open and fair’ auction when you compare the amount they can invest into the auction.

    Also, why are we selling off spectrum. Should we not be leasing it to these companies?

  • Matty G

    Screw Rogers 9 million subscribers. What about 15-16 million subs on the other networks?

    I think Cope has it partially right though… Make sure that the spectrum gets used for getting high speed access to rural areas. I just don’t really like the idea of that chunk of spectrum being a monopoly- whether it’s RoBellus or the new guys.

  • Scott

    Hey Mobilesyrup, your readers/follows likely represent the most experienced and active users of wireless voice & data services in the country. This poll data needs to get in front of the minister well in advance of the auctions. Is there some forum (eg committee testimony?) that you could use to highlight this data to the people who are making the decisions about these auctions? Admittedly it is unscientific, but somehow the voice of the public needs to be heard in Ottawa… I’m pretty certain the industry lobbyists are getting their point of view across in spades…

  • Adam

    It should be fair for all carriers regardless of ‘new entrant’ status. I want more competition and more providers to drive prices down, however keep in mind the current ‘Big 3′ started from zero as well back in the day. Fair is fair in my personal opinion.

    • Scott

      Hey Adam, I’m all for fair treatment. Don’t forget however that the big three paid *nothing* for their spectrum when they were starting out. These big 3 now have large and highly profitable networks which means they can easily bid up the price of new spectrum to the point where it is not economically feasible for new players to enter the market. So who loses in this scenario? Well that would be you, me, and every other consumer in this country who would continue to endure the classic fall-out of a monopolized market (high costs, poor service stifled innovation in products and services).

      That’s why I’m in favour of not only a set-aside for new entrants, but increased foreign ownership in the Canadian market. Canadian consumers and businesses need a competitively-priced wireless industry so that Canada remains competitive with other world markets. Believe it or not this would actually be good for Robelus as well – the big 3 need to be able to grow and expand their horizons beyond Canadian borders if they are to be viable in the long term.

  • Jay

    I say give it to the Big 3… Why?.. Because they’re the only ones with the money to do anything with it. What will the new entrants do with it? They don’t have the financial backing to expand across Canada. The spectrum would be wasted on them. The Big 3 can use the lower frequency spectrum to expand their networks in rural (and no I don’t me outside Toronto, I mean bush-land Canada) areas, where lower frequencies actually do make a big difference and allow for lower infrastructure costs. Let the major cities have the higher frequencies, because let’s face it you can drop a cell antenna on any flippin building in a downtown metropolis.

    @abc123: Yes, 150Mhz makes a huge difference when you’re talking about signals cutting through hills, forests, and valleys.

  • aka

    I agree with Jay that the Big3 should not be shutout because they have the resources to rapidly make LTE available across Canada much faster than the new entrants. Canada should be blanketed with LTE across our great nation, not wait for the new entrants to play catchup.

    Look the history of Telus/Bell’s commitment to infrastructure investment. They made a joint announcement in Oct 2008, that they would be in partnership to build out their HSPA+ network. One year later, in Nov 2009, both Bell and Telus announced their brand-new HSPA+ network with speeds up to 21Mbps reaching 93% of Canadians. In Nov 2010 and Feb 2011, both Bell and Telus respectively announced their DC-HSPA+ network upgrade with speeds up to 42 Mbps.

    Rogers started back in 2005 alone, and rolled out their first HSPA network in 2007 to cover the top 25 cities in Canada, they announced HSPA+ with speeds up to 21Mbps in 2009 cover over 90% of our population, LTE rollout in 2011.

    What guarantees does the new entrants have to cover over 90% of populated Canadians within 2 years after acquiring their portion of the 700Mhz spectrum?

  • Deric

    The spectrum the big 3 already own is hit or miss at best for signal in the rural areas. I live in the rurals and the only way we will ever get LTE is if the big 3 get that band and turn it into LTE transmission. It is unfortunate from a competitive standpoint, but it’s true.

  • C

    The set-aside for new carriers doesn’t work. The other side of that blade is that spectrum is set aside for “ma and pop” ISPs (not just the next big 3 like WIND/Mobil/etc). It’s not economically feasible or profitable for these smaller providers to roll out a 3G/4G/HSPDA/LTE solution if it’s only for a handful of subscribers that they’d gain or retain, especially when they already simply just re-sell rogers rocket sticks or bell rocket sticks because then they don’t have to deal with equipment/support/etc and collect their %/markup. This causes the bigger ISPs to only pick up the most profitable areas, and leave the rest for these little ISPs (whom they know are just going to resell their stuff anyways).

    Rural areas have suffered for this, with bandwidth not becoming much cheaper because they need to use tricks to squeeze more use out of their existing frequency range(s). Most rural areas (in Ontario) can achieve 5-7mbit/sec download with 1-2mbit/sec upload on HSPDA thanks to this; but we are still paying a ridiculous amount for the quantity of signal that we pass through the air and over their network onto the internet, not to mention fiddling with the antennas on a regular basis or losing speed due to quality of service stuff (like one persons’ phone conversation taking precedence over another persons’ data connection because they are both using the same tower/frequencies).

    Neither an open auction or a closed auction are good, for different reasons, but a closed auction really is in the best interests of rural areas, IF they follow through with what they say they will and roll out LTE here.

    In the city there are something like 12 towers in every 1km radius, but in the rural areas it’s more like 1 tower for every 5km radius, sometimes 2 every 5-7km. With less towers there is less equipment, meaning they can only use less of their spectrum at a given time.

    The separation of data and voice frequencies is what is the good reason to keep the auction open and just let them have the damned spectrum – it will affect the rural areas just as it did when 3G came out; rural areas are only recently benefiting from this, and at the expense of WiMAX which they are sweeping it under the rug after a sabotaged roll-out because 3G/LTE bandwidth fills their pockets fatter.

    They already have us by the balls and are bleeding us for their profits, restricting their ability to reach people they currently aren’t reaching doesn’t help the people not being reached at all; it does the opposite and keeps them disconnected for a longer period.

    Almost every new company that is getting the set-aside spectrum is concentrating on rolling it out in cities, and leaving people to roam on the rogers/bell towers when they are out of a city. Their ‘unlimited’ packages don’t apply in the rural areas, so don’t point to these companies as saviors either; they’re just bottom feeding from the big 3 and getting their chunk of the wireless market, while the rural areas are still living with GB/month caps that don’t allow enough bandwidth for things like netflix or youtube in larger than an hour or two per month increments (after which the internet gets unplugged for the next 29 days or $50/GB overage charges ensue).

    Rural areas currently have little to no choices for a ‘decent’ internet connection, let alone anything near what “city folk” enjoy. Without LTE, we will see things like city connections going up to 100mbps and country connections remaining at 7mbps. Let the rural areas have 21mbps, don’t vote on this purely from the perspective of a city user as it really won’t affect you as much at all (unless you are planning on starting a mobile provider in the future).

  • Bob

    The LEAST I expect from the government is to set aside a nice chunk of 700mhz spectrum for the new entrants (around 20-30%). That is the very LEAST I expect. The best case situation would be for the government to rent out the airwaves. $4 billion is not that much money for the government, when you consider the amount of money the consumers will save.

  • Anthony

    All in all, spectrum hogging should be illegal as it directly impedes competition, particularly in this “free-market” society Canadians live in.

    Canadians pay the most comparatively expensive rates in the OECD countries; that’s saying a lot.

  • anona

    I’ll say it again. I want LTE coverage everywhere I go. Give it to a new contender and it will take them YEARS to roll out coverage, like Wind + Co.

    Give it to the Big 3 and we’ll actually have coverage in a year or 2, not 5 or 6.

    Well it would be nice to have a noobie to lower prices, I’d rather have coverage.

    • vibraphonist

      Hope you enjoy paying $1000 a MB then.

  • Small 3

    The solution is easy; either make it “set a side” or if big 3 really think this 700MHz is essential for the future of LTE in Canada, so lets make it “open and fair” BUT the winner must give an equivalent part of his (previously hoarded) non 700MHz spectrum and everybody is winner; big 3 got their hands on 700MHz, where small 3 gained a bigger spectrum for much cheaper.

  • Kamil

    If Paradis doesn’t set aside the 700mhz spectrum for the new incumbants, he should be prepared for a massive shitstorm from Canadian consumers. If the UBB protests, rallies and petitions in February 2011 are an indication, there will most definitely be an outlash of even greater proportions and I, as being one of the organizers for the UBB rally in Toronto, will make sure of that.