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Update: Here’s the list of bidders for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction

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Industry Canada has just posted the complete list of bidders for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction in January 14th, 2014. While TELUS, WIND, Eastlink (Bragg Communications) already confirmed its participation, majority of the others bidders were unknown. Below is the initial list of bidders who have submitted funds from the applications deadline on September 17th:

  • 1770129 Alberta Inc.
  • Bell Mobility Inc.
  • BH Wave Acquisition Corporation
  • Bragg Communications Incorporated
  • Feenix Wireless Inc.
  • Globalive Wireless Management Corp.
  • MTS Inc.
  • Novus Wireless Inc.
  • Rogers Communications Partnership
  • Saskatchewan Telecommunications
  • TBayTel
  • TELUS Communications Company
  • The Catalyst Capital Group Inc.
  • Vecima Networks Inc.
  • Vidéotron

An interesting submission is Feenix Wireless. The owner of this is John Bitove, who’s currently on the board of struggling wireless carrier Mobilicity (legally known as Dave Wireless), which coincidentally is not bidding. The usual players Rogers, Bell and TELUS are all bidding, as it Globalive (WIND Mobile), Vidéotron, TBayTel, SasTel, MTS and Bragg (Eastlink).

The number company – 1770129 – is based in Calgary and the CEO is Amir Bigloo, who’s leading a company called CCI Wireless. BH Wave is under the parent-company of Birch Hill Equity Partners – a company that’s also rumoured to partner with Rogers and make a bid for WIND. Novus Wireless is based in Vancouver and currently provides internet, TV and home phone services. Vecima Networks is based in Victoria and finally, Catalyst Capital is a private equity investment firm based in Toronto and Mobilicity’s biggest creditor.

It will be interesting to see what happens between Bitove’s group and Catalyst.

Certainly an interesting cast of characters. The 700MHz band is critical for the carriers to acquire for the future of wireless in Canada. Some experts in the industry call this the “beachfront property”, or “Cadillac” of spectrum and will 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.


Update: James Moore, Minister of Industry, has commented on the list of applications bidding in the upcoming wireless auction in January. Moore stated:

“Well before this summer’s public debate on wireless policy, our Government introduced a number of measures to create more choice in Canada’s wireless market and to defend consumers. As a result, prices have come down, the number of jobs in the wireless sector has increased and consumers have more choices. This trend will continue as a result of January’s auction. In addition to this auction, our Government will continue to aggressively pursue policies that ensure consumer interests are at the core of all Government decisions.”


Update – October 16th: According to the Industry Canada website, private-equity firm Birch Hill has withdrawn its interest in participating from the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction in January.

In a convoluted post on Reuters: “Withdrawing from the auction frees Birch Hill to talk to any of the remaining auction participants about an acquisition. Bidders are forbidden from such talk under Industry Canada rules.”

Perhaps Birch Hill will make a play for Wind or Mobilicity.


Here’s the list of 11 bidders still participating:

  • Bell Mobility Inc.
  • Bragg Communications Incorporated
  • Feenix Wireless Inc.
  • Globalive Wireless Management Corp.
  • MTS Inc.
  • Novus Wireless Inc.
  • Rogers Communications Partnership
  • Saskatchewan Telecommunications
  • TBayTel
  • TELUS Communications Company
  • Vidéotron

Source: Industry Canada

  • enrai05

    Can anyone explain how this works? Since this is an auction, I assume the highest bidder wins. What’s stopping one of the Big 3 from winning it?

    • themattyg

      Incumbents are limited in how much they can get, whereas new entrants are allowed more. Government mandated rules.

    • It’s Me

      Nothing is stopping the big 3 from winning it, that was all a part of the BS propaganda campaign. There is a cap on how much they can actually win however. Each incumbent is limited to winning on a single block, out of 4 in each region. I expect their plan was/is to each only bid on 1 block and then share those 3 amongst each other. Verizon scared them because they would have been allowed to win as many blocks as they wanted, which would possibly prevent the 3 of them from grabbing up 3 blocks to share. Now that no foreign companies are in, there is nothing stopping them from grabbing 75% of the available blocks.

    • TheOnlyAdvantageToLiveInQuebec

      In the provinces where there are four carriers, I think ROBELUS will only be able to get 2 blocks which means that one of them will be left out without a spectrum block.

    • NotARogersEmployee

      You are correct at the possibility of this, but the amount of cash required to win a block over the big 3 is far beyond what a regional carrier can recoup in their respective provinces.

    • TheOnlyAdvantageToLiveInQuebec

      Oh so they have to outbid them. Almost impossible then.

    • Kei

      Each of the big three are allowed to win on one, whereas smaller entrants can bid on two. THAT was the deal with Verizon. Because they were rumored to accquire WIND and Mobilicity, they could enter the Canadian market AS a start-up company and win two of the four spectrums, leaving one of the incumbents without a spectrum. Our response was: Bell and Telus used to be the same company, and they still do share a large portion of their spectrums. The big 3 can deal with it in one way or another. Anyways, the deal was a flop, so I don’t know why I care lol…

    • gmd

      Since Bell and Telus “share”, shouldn’t they be listed at one?

    • charlie890

      No

    • ScooterinAB

      FYI, Telus and Bell are not, nor have every been the same company (in wireless or wireline. It’s actually kind of a funny history, at least in Alberta). While the two share towers, they do not share network infrastructure nor spectrum.

      That being said, it would be smart for Telus and Bell (and other bidders for that fact) to reach an agreement as a part of their tower sharing agreement. For example, since Telus already piggybacks on Bell’s towers in the east, they could reach an agreement to share some of the spectrum, effectively removing Telus as a competing bidder in those markets. Likewise, Telus could allow Bell some of the spectrum access in the west. This could lead to more tower and spectrum sharing agreements among other bidders, meaning that they are more likely to gain access to the spectrum instead of x company losing the bod completely and getting nothing.

      As an aside, I’m a little surprised by Shaw’s lack of entry, considering they basically snuck in there last time in order to launch their WiFi network. That rules out one theory I had.

    • naviz

      Yes, they do share the same 3G network, only their core infrastructure is different (ex. SMS gateway, APNs, etc). Ever do a network scan and see 302 880? The phones will not consider that to be roaming even though that’s not the code for Bell or Telus. They don’t share CDMA networks, not sure about LTE.

    • ScooterinAB

      Bell and Telus have separate 3 and 4G networks. The only thing they share is the tower itself, much like how bulbs on a street lamp share a pole. All of the network infrastructure and spectrum is different. I’ve never done that network scan (knowingly), but I know for a fact that the networks are 100 % separate.

    • naviz

      Google “bell telus network sharing” and your first result is a Financial Post article detailing how they share the same network and brag about how quickly they were able to get it up thanks to network sharing. Likewise, you can see many other posts explaining how they do it in terms of technical info.

    • ScooterinAB

      Once again, I can tell you for a fact that this is not true. I can do this because I have worked (directly or indirectly) for both companies. The towers are shared but the network is not. Only the physical metal tower is shared, which was done to quickly roll out their networks in opposite regions (instead of having to buy up the land and build the entire towers to expand). If the network was shared, how do you explain infrastructural, speed, and connectivity differences between the two?

    • naviz

      Well, it looks like you were either misled by your employer or the CFO for Telus was a liar. Which one was it?

      From the FP article:

      The new system, deployed at record speed, has been an enormous boon for Bell and Telus in the nine quarters since, allowing each to catch up and eclipse Rogers in per-user revenue growth and achieve comparably better profits.

      “We got Canada built out in less than one year — 98% covered — by basically splitting up the country and making it economical to do,” Bob McFarlane, chief financial officer for Telus, said in an interview at an industry conference this month. “That’s the benefit of having network sharing.”

    • ScooterinAB

      I keep telling you. It’s a tower sharing agreement. The two companies struck an agreement for Telus to build on Bell’s towers in eastern Canada, while Bell could build on Telus’s western towers. This let both companies very quickly expand their networks out of their home region without dropping trillions of dollars on physical infrastructure. That is what McFarlane was talking about. He was not saying that both companies use the same network, because that is not true. One single word from a quote does not summarize the entire deal, nor does it contain all of the context and information needed to understand the tower sharing agreement that McFarlane was speaking of.

      The Bell and Telus networks are separate from each other. This is fact, not conjecture. They are two separate companies with two separate histories and two separate networks. Therefore, they are two separate bidders. Deal with it.

    • naviz

      You still haven’t explained 302 880. Where does this phantom network come from then? Why it it registered with CNAC as Bell/Telus? Google “cnac imsi” and you will see. It’s called MOCN (Multi-operator core network), which allows them to offer different features/endpoints, while still sharing the same physical/radio network.

      You need to deal with the fact that it is the same 3G network. You still have provided zero evidence to prove your claim. Google what I gave you before, you’ll even get technical info from people working for Bell/Telus that explain how they do it on forums.

    • Jerrik Nordlee

      Bell and TELUS were never the same company. BC Tel merged with TELUS in 98 to form TELUS as a national company instead of just a provincial company. Bell and TELUS partnered together for their HSPA network.

    • Paul Branchaud

      Would Videotron be considered a new bidder or an incumbent? If they’re considered new, then they could mess with the big 3 in Quebec at the very least, if not begin encroaching into neighboring provinces.

    • It’s Me

      Yes, they are a “new” carrier. They indeed might mess with the incumbents Quebec plans. Having said that, they’ve already shown they are willing and eager to work with Rogers.

    • kirilmatt

      Its good for customers there that they work with rogers. I actually find it surprising that Rogers is the leading mobile company and have almost the same size network as bell/telus. They have to compete with two companies sharing resources

    • It’s Me

      Rogers got a sizable head start on Bell and Telus. When the original spectrum allocations were doled out, only Rogers was given free spectrum across the country. The Telco’s were also given free spectrum, but local landline telco’s, like MTS and SaskTel, were given the spectrum Bell would have received in their local areas. So Bell and Telus didn’t have access to build a national network until the consolidated with other carriers and the joined to build out their HSPA network together.

    • GONINSANE

      If that’s the case then i think it would be fair to not be able to put a cap on how much the big 3 could purchase since verizon is bigger than all 3 of them combined if they participated in the auction then i think the Big 3 should have no cap, but since verizon isn’t participating then the cap i think is necessary.

    • It’s Me

      Except that would mean making rules just for Verizon. The cap was meant to attract new investment into the wireless industry here, outside of the big 3. Creating rules to attract new money and then adding new rules to exclude certain money doesn’t make a ton of sense.

    • charlie890

      The rules prevent the big 3 from taking it all.

  • JagaJaga

    Hoping WIND Gets 2 blocks

    • Delphus

      right, you mean the company that is desperately looking for money???

    • JagaJaga

      They’ve outgrown what they have already, and they’re still backed by Orascom, I’m sure they’ll figure something out, winning that spectrum will help them to stay afloat.

    • Delphus

      “Stay afloat”… reminds me of Microcell and Clearnet days…

      And we all know how that ended.

    • Thr1ve

      How will getting into even more debt while still losing truckloads of money going to help them stay afloat? Not to mention they’d need to build their LTE network completely from scratch (which isn’t cheap)… Orascom could have bailed Wind out a long time ago, but they didn’t, so why would they help Wind now when they’re even more in debt and looking to buy new spectrum they can’t afford, not to mention roll out an LTE network they also can’t afford? All while looking for someone else to buy them out… If Wind is looking for a buyer, they shouldn’t even be bidding, because if Wind bids and wins the spectrum auction and does get bought out by another company, that spectrum will be sitting in limbo, it will be unable to be used, sold or transferred for 4-5 years like the previous spectrum they won…

    • Angelos Epithemiou

      Orascom does not own them. Vimpelcom does. Orascom has no money. Have you not seen the mess in egypt? no? What is winds debt? I read over 2 billion.. not good..

    • ScooterinAB

      Agreed. What’s more likely is that Wind will choose some key markets to bid in and do so aggressively on 1 of the 4 blocks, rather than go across the board or try and secure 2 blocks. While Wind is backed by a very large telecom, the don’t have the money to gamble on 2 blocks right now and make that vital transition to a completely national carrier. I like Wind, but it’s not likely that they will come out of this auction on the top.

      Also see my other comment, speculating that some bidders may submit join bids and strike a spectrum sharing agreement (if permitted) in order to at least gain some access rather than risk having none.

    • Canucks

      People are missing the point here. Winning the spectrum only gets the carrier an entry ticket. It doesn’t do anything if the carrier is not building any tower.
      Also, this entry ticket has a high price tag which will transfer back to consumers.

  • Plazmic Flame

    Wind Mobile had to be a bidder and I’m glad to see they are. Their future will be decided with the 700 MHz spectrum so they can finally solve issues with reliability and speed.

    Although, I suspect we won’t see the fruits of this auction until 2015/2016?

    • CoolGuyConnor

      The AWS auction was wrapped up in May 2008 and WIND launched about a year and a half later in December 2009. I’d say that since a lot of the other stuff to do with launching a wireless network is already done, WIND should be able to start rolling out 700MHz fairly shortly after the results are finalized. The problem is that there aren’t many 700MHz phones, if there are any at all.

    • RLC

      Could you expand on your statement about there aren’t many 700Mhz phones. Verizon and AT&T have deployed 700Mhz LTE. I expect the phones coming to market will support 700Mhz . The IPhone & Motox does 700Mhz, and I expect the forthcoming Nexus 5 will.
      Will be interesting to see if the 700Mhz VOIP only phone, that Verizon is working on with a supplier comes to market

    • charlie890

      The 700 mhz phone is a bit of chicken and egg scenario. Fortunately for Canada 700 is being rolled out now in the US, Australia and other jurisdictions so the phones are being made. Pretty much all of the manufacturers either have or will have 700mhz available.,

    • C_Flat

      Any LTE phone in Canada already has support for the 700mhz band

    • Canucks

      It is good that Wind is a bidder but even if Wind wins a block or two, the issues are still there without towers being build.

  • gua_ca_mo_le

    By Saskatchewan Telecommunications I assume you mean SaskTel? I’m curious how this is possible since they’re still a crown corp?

    • Delphus

      And what has that got to do with anything… They’re still allowed to operate, which means they can bid… And it’s a provincial “crown” corporation, not federal. And even if it were federal they would still be able to bid.

  • beyond

    hey… they forgot to include my bid

  • MobileMonkey

    Hey didnt public mobile say they were joining the auction – I dont see them on the list???

    • erterte

      LOL

    • ARCE

      The Catalyst Capital Group Inc. (I Believe) was the company that bought out Public Mobile)…

    • MobileMonkey

      Why would that be the case – Isn’t that the company that holds Mobilicty Debt?? I wonder if they have some deal with PM then….

    • CoolGuyConnor

      Catalyst Capital is the company that owns Mobilicity, and Feenix Wireless is the company that is run by the current Chairman of Mobilicity… DAVE Wireless isn’t on this list which is very bizarre.

    • RoboBonobo

      (Edit): Public Mobile was purchased by Thomvest and Cartesian Capital Group LLC.
      (Previously): Thomvest was the NY-based company that invested in Public Mobile.

    • Wow

      Thomvest is canadian. Cartesian Capital Group LLC. is the NY-based equity firm. Thomvest being main share holder.

    • RoboBonobo

      You’re right. My mistake.

  • Josh Brown

    700 mhz is great for rural towers as it is very deep penetrating wave length, for the city it doesn’t matter, Sure you could have the CN tower cover the entire city with 700 mhz, but that would mean that there would be a million people sharing the bandwidth of one tower. In fact in the city you are way better to have higher frequency( that can hold more data) and have more towers in a big city. The real benefit is in rural areas that Robellus already have good coverage, yes it can be better, but most likely this spectrum will benefit the smaller companies more as it will allow them to build less towers and still cover the same area.

    • charlie890

      There isn’t much difference in the propagation characteristics between 700mhz and 800mhz. In rural areas hills and trees are the main barriers. You are correct about capacity. The latter being why more towers and smaller cell sites are required particularly in crowded areas.

    • Steven1234

      Correction – big difference between 800 and 700mhz spectrum. 700 is the first spectrum to be auctioned that is no-longer bound by the curvaturs of the earth. 800 can only travel a fixeed distance (based on the contors of the earth), whereas 700 will propogate a lot further due to its being affected a longer wavelength and essentially being able to “bend” around the earth for longer distances

    • charlie890

      For all practical purposes in cellular or broadband applications the curvature of the earth is not a factor. Also, radio frequencies do not bend around the curvature of the earth.

    • Josh Brown

      Sorry I wasn’t referring to 800 mhz I was talking about 1700, 2100, and 2600mhz

  • Tpickles

    Its going to be an interesting auction. Looking forward to hearing what happens in January. Lets hope that WIND gets at least one block in Alberta, BC and Ontario at the very least. It would help grow the company into the smaller areas.

    • Josh Brown

      it true with out putting up any new towers just upgrading the ones they have their coverage would expand. Or more likely it would give them a way to open up LTE with out cutting off HSPA.

    • fmradio68

      They will win spectrum there but not in Manitoba,SASK or Quebec.

  • Eli_Vance

    The government needs to keep an eye on smaller bidders to make sure they aren’t just puppets for the big 3.

    Birch Hill will probably try to buy up as much spectrum as they can and sell it to Rogers later on.

    • charlie890

      Resale is limited by the rules

    • Liberal Phone Person

      what about hoarding?

    • charlie890

      Definitely an issue although there are some “use it or lose it” rules

  • nig gie

    “Bragg Communications Incorporated”
    The only one that sounds American…

    all others are just srcap of Canada.. Videotron is the most useless of them all…

    • Liberal Phone Person

      “sounds american”… It’s canadian. it’s eastlink

  • Devhux

    Looks like not everyone bidding is doing so for cellular phone usage – a few could be doing so to help with fixed wireless service (providing Internet to rural communities). The 700MHz band would definitely be beneficial for this!

  • PT

    BS propaganda campaign + a corrupt institution = Canadians get more screw.

    The best place on earth.

    • gommer strike

      that’s right man. BC, the best place on earth(just like the commercials). Just as long as you don’t mind doing outdoors labor jobs…forestry, mining, sewage treatment, etc. time to get out of that office cubicle and get your hands dirty

  • fmradio68

    I can see Wind winning spectrum in the same cities as the AWS auction. And no new Canadian entrant can compete with MTS,SASKTELand VIDEOTRON.

  • jonnny

    I bet some of those smaller guys are in there to grab spectrum away from the new entrants. I bet the big three are paying them big bucks to block Wind out of the spectrum.

  • Tom Blinky

    Wait, did the Minister of Industry honestly say that prices have gone down?

    Gone down for who, exactly?

    • RoboBonobo

      All the hundreds of thousands of people on ~$30/mo plans with new entrants.

    • Thr1ve

      Right, the hundreds of thousands of people in a half dozen small areas in Canada (who aren’t looking to expand or are even able to expand beyond that), with poor and extremely limited coverage, no LTE and slow data speeds… While the rest of Canada’s ~26.5 MILLION wireless subscribers get to pay MORE for the same wireless service they had 6+ months ago…

    • RoboBonobo

      Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that 26.5 million subscribers are paying more than they did 6 months ago? They haven’t forced anyone to switch to the new rates. Those rates are for new subscribers and willful contract renewal. I’m on a “Big 3″ carrier, and I’m getting more for less than I paid a year ago. Don’t get mad at me if you willingly renewed your contract at a higher rate and can’t use the retentions department.
      The ARPU of the smaller carriers is vastly lower than the ARPU of the “Big 3″ and if you count everyone who’s not on a “Big 3″ carrier, it adds up to a lot more than 500,000 subscribers.
      And then there’s regional competition — the big carriers lowering their prices in certain areas, to compete with certain smaller carriers operating in those regions. These factors affect the *average* price statistic that people are paying in general.
      Regarding smaller carriers expanding…. Go look at WIND’s coverage map in southern Ontario, compared to what it was 2 years ago. That’s right, it’s more than doubled in size, so don’t tell me they haven’t been expanding. Every day they’re working on expanding and improving reception in the coverage area. 700MHz spectrum will only make it easier for them to continue to expand/improve coverage and implement LTE.

      Get your facts straight and come back at me with some points that are actually valid.

  • kroms

    So basically ROGERS,BELL,TELUS

    Nice , and then everyone says ” KEEP it CANADIAN ” KEEP JOBS IN CANADA.

    What a load of Sh$t.

    • gommer strike

      doesn’t affect you since you have no intentions of applying to the big 3 anyways right? oh what’s this charming posting on mobilesyrup, k NEXT

  • Sam Dumcum

    Without Verizon on the list this is just another Canadian monopoly sham. There’s a reason we have colored money.

  • ian ian

    Good to see the Big 3 are back at the helm. Good luck boys and go get ‘Em! It was a bit rough the past few months but good luck with the new 700mhz spectrum. Good luck to all the participants.

  • Mitch

    there are 4 spectrums that are being put up for auction. Rogers, Telus, and Bell will all get 1 of those 4 and the last spectrum will most likely go to which ever other company puts up the most money. but any company left behind will have a hard time competing against these spectrum winners.

  • kirilmatt

    Everyone thinks its a bad thing that the big 3 can get 75%. I think its fair. As a customer out in NL with no new carriers, I want to have access to this new spectrum. A lot of Canadians have no choice. Until another carrier expands nation-wide, its only fair that the vast majority of customers that use the big 3 get access to better mobile technology. I would love for there to be new players, but it wouldn’t be fair to shut out the companies that service the vast majority of Canadians.

    • skullan

      Except, it’s an irreversible process… so, it’s best to limit what the big ones can get and put aside blocks for those that might grow to be the national.

    • kirilmatt

      I disagree. I think 25% is more than enough for new entrants. Unless they are forced to build nationwide networks(in which case they could out-bid yhe big 3 anyways) it is unfair for consumers

  • Eric Pitzul

    To the person saying videotron is useless. It will allow Rogers to get 2 blocks in Quebec and 2 in downtown Toronto and along the 401 all the way to Montreal. Since they signed a LTE sharing deal for 25 years a fews months ago. That’s going to be a huge chunk of population.

  • mapleleaf3s

    To make it more affordable for the new or smaller entrants, why not lease the new spectrum? In the future, if the market and technology evolves that could make another spectrum more desirable, the players can rebid. This evens the playing field so no one player squats on the most desirable spectrum.

    Bell and Telus were given the advantage via a virtual monopoly, then Rogers got a foot hold when they were the only one who could get a spectrum across the country. Give the smaller guys a reasonable chance to gain a foot hold by introducing a temporary legislation requiring the big 3 (who already own spectrum) to make a percentage available for the discount market.

  • Bill Coppens

    OK but what does all this mean for us Canadians? Cheaper prices,No contracts,Better service,Breaking a contract without paying penalties? Someone please explain this in plain English reading the Governments explanation gives me a headache

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