James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Industry, announced today a continued mandate to “deliver more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada’s wireless industry.” As previously reported, the announcement was expected to be about spectrum auction and Moore delivered.
The upcoming AWS-3 auction aims to cement the notion of four national wireless carriers operating in each province. The auction is scheduled to begin March 3rd, 2015 and will have a set-aside for newer entrants — such as WIND Mobile, Mobilicty and Videotron — with below 10% national and 20% provincial market share. The new spectrum will allow carriers to deploy LTE, hopefully lowering the average cost of service in the process.
Moore noted that in 2006 Canada was dominated by Rogers, Bell and TELUS with 98% of the market. In 2015, the Big Three will occupy only 75% of wireless spectrum with “new competitors” owning a full quarter. Moore said in a statement, “Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies.”
Moore also declared the government is seeking insight on how it can make the 600 MHz band available for mobile use which, like the previously-auctioned 700Mhz spectrum, can travel further and better penetrate walls.
In addition to AWS-3, the government will be developing a plan to enable use of the AWS-4 spectrum “so that a new competitor can offer more choice to Canadians, especially those in rural and remote areas.” Finally, an additional 2100 MHz of spectrum will be available for carriers to deploy “to deliver the services that Canadians want.”
Tony Lacavera, WIND Mobile’s Chairman, said, “True competition means better wireless packages and lower rates for consumers… The Federal Government’s commitment to sustained competition from a fourth carrier in every region is entirely in the best interest of Canadians, and we at WIND Mobile are committed to continuing as that alternative in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.”