Bell CEO says federal government should take ‘long, hard look’ at 5G spectrum auction

Bibic says that regional carriers are "dominant in their own right" 

It seems the head of Canada’s biggest telecom company isn’t pleased with the recent record-breaking 5G spectrum auction that netted the federal government $8.9 billion.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Mirko Bibic, BCE’s (the parent company of Bell Canada) president and chief executive officer, said that the steep cost carriers were forced to pay during the auction could create issues related to the Liberal government’s goal to reduce wireless bills by 25 percent by 2023.

“I think, actually, government’s got to take a long, hard look at this. You can’t on the one hand keep driving, from a public policy perspective, keep asking for prices to be lower, and lower and lower, which actually is a laudable goal; but at the same time, [they] designed an auction that’s going to make that very, very difficult,” said Bibic in the interview with Bloomberg.

In total, Bell spent $2.1 billion during the auction to acquire 271 licenses, giving the carrier a 37 percent share of Canada’s sought-after 3,500MHz spectrum.

Bibic goes on to state that he feels Vidéotron’s parent company Quebecor had an advantage during the auction because it favoured regional carriers through a $4 billion subsidy. He goes on to argue that many of Canada’s regional carriers are “dominant in their own right.”

“The way the auction was designed basically handed $2.3 billion in taxpayer money to Quebecor based on the differential between the prices the national players paid and the prices that they paid for the same spectrum,” said Bibic.

Quebecor purchased 294 licenses for $830 million.

During the auction, 50MHz of the spectrum was set aside for carriers that aren’t Rogers, Bell and Telus and their flanker brands to create a more competitive market.

You can read the full story on Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg