Canada Competition Bureau

Canada’s 2500MHz Auction Results: Telus and Videotron Big Winners

May 12, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

The results of the 2500MHz spectrum auction in Canada have been announced by Industry Canada.  This coveted spectrum provides a lot of ‘space’ for high-bandwidth activities such as video streaming.  However, there were really no surprises as TELUS was the only one of the Big Three able to take advantage of the auction as both Rogers and Bell were already near their limits.  TELUS walked away with 122 licenses for $479 million, or over 63-percent of the total auction revenue of $755 million.  Rogers spent less than $25 million for 41 licenses and Bell was just under $29 million for 51 licenses.  The other big winner from the auction was Videotron at $187 million for 18 licenses. Before the auction, Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity said, “I don’t expect there to be excessive valuations …I don’t expect Bell and Rogers to spend very much, but that’s because of the cap, and therefore, there’s a bit of a free ride for Telus.”

This auction did not bring the government near the funds that the 700MHz and AWS-3 auctions hauled in – $5.27 billion and $2.11 billion respectively, but when you have Rogers and Bell sitting on the sidelines with their hands tied, you must expect the ‘take’ to be a lot less.  With the government set aside, WIND Mobile was the big winner in the AWS-3 auction – however, they did not win the bid on any spectrum at this auction.  Looking at the chart provided by Industry Canada, we can see several patterns emerge.  Even though Rogers only got 41 licenses and Bell 51, they were able to fill in some of the gaps in their services in rural parts of Ontario, as well as two areas that had yet to penetrate – in the Prairies and Maritimes – so Rogers purchased very wisely.  Bell picked up spectrum in Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The other winners in this auction – Bragg Communications (Eastlink) walked away with 11 licenses for $4.8 million, Corridor Communications picked up 13 licenses for $2.3 million, MTS grabbed only 2 licenses for $2.2 million, TBayTel got 2 licenses for $1.7 million and Xplornet Communications grabbed 42 licenses for $25.4 million.  It is not sure exactly what some of this spectrum will be used for, but you can be sure the government will be following up. There is another AWS-3 and 700MHz auction set for this August and it will be interesting to see just how many spectrum auctions Canada will hold in 2015.