Cogeco wins big in leftover 4G spectrum auction, says it will explore wireless options

Freedom Mobile also snagged some licenses

Cogeco opts out of the 600 MHz spectrum auction

The federal government has released a list of winning bidders for its auction on residual 4G spectrum, including Freedom Mobile, Xplornet and Cogeco.

In total, the auction brought in $43,436,322 CAD.

The biggest spender by far was Cogeco Connexion — Cogeco Communication’s broadband subsidiary– which bought 23 blocks of 2300MHz and 2500MHz spectrum mainly in small to mid-sized Ontario and Quebec communities.

“We are very pleased that we were successful in acquiring spectrum licences as part of this auction by ISED,” said Luc Noiseux, senior vice-president and chief technology and strategy officer at Cogeco Communications, in a press statement.

“This is a first positive step in the exploration of our options in the mobile wireless market” — Luc Noiseux, Cogeco 

“As stated in the past, the Company has an interest in entering the mobile market only to the extent that it can operate a profitable business within its financial means. A wireless offering would be complementary to Cogeco Connexion’s current offering to its customers. This is a first positive step in the exploration of our options in the mobile wireless market.”

The company added that it would be making any further comments on the spectrum auction apart from that statement. It spent $24,306,308 in total.

In an April investor’s note, Scotiabank analyst Jeff Fan wrote that Freedom Mobile would be a strong competitor for the licenses Cogeco desired, making its triumph in securing so much spectrum in the sealed-bid auction unexpected.

Cogeco is a Montreal-based Canadian telecom that offers cable TV, internet and home telephone services in Ontario and Quebec.

For its part, Freedom Mobile secured 2500MHz spectrum blocks in Brisith Columbia in the following communities:

  • Kootenays
  • Nanaimo
  • Courtenay
  • Thompson/Cariboo
  • Prince George
  • Dawson Creek

It also purchased 2500MHz in Edmonton, Alberta. The carrier’s total bill came to $8,642,040.

Xplornet, which is soon to become a wireless carrier in Manitoba, made a similarly-sized investment in 2500MHz, purchasing spectrum mainly in the Atlantic region, Alberta and Saskatchewan for a total of $8,235,473.

Meanwhile, Iris Technologies, parent company of Ice Wireless, purchased a block of 700MHz in the Yukon for $100,607 to add its already dominant northern footprint.

It wasn’t just regional players, either. Telus, one of Canada’s national telecoms, joined in to purchase two blocks of PCS in New Brunswick and Northern Ontario for $907,000. PCS is within the 1900MHz band.

The final winner was Ecotel, a private and industrial cell network operator, which purchased 700MHz and 2500MHz blocks in northern Canada, BC and Ontario.

700MHz and 2500MHz spectrum are both key 4G LTE spectrum bands used by Canada’s major carriers. 700MHz was initially auction in August 2015, while the 2500MHz band first went up for auction in May 2015.

Source: ISED