It was just the other day, when the Canadian Industry Minister, James Moore, announced that the upcoming AWS-3 spectrum auction would favor the smaller wireless companies. All purchases from investors would be required to make their spectrum purchases through investments in Wind or Mobilicity – not the Big Three – Rogers, Bell or TELUS. The Government is adamant about getting another larger wireless carrier to increase competition and lower the cost to Canadian subscribers. We were wondering how long it would take to hear from both sides – and as it turned out just one day. One government official said: “It is an ideal time to inject additional spectrum into the marketplace in order to incent new wireless investors and to improve the conditions for the purchase of new entrants. We recognize that, in order to continue making progress on this path, companies need clarity on how and when wireless spectrum will be allocated in the future.”
In the last 700MHz spectrum auction, Quebecor’s Videotron spent $223 million to buy up spectrum in four of Canada’s most populated areas and have hinted that they would like to become the number four carrier. However, they are insisting on Government help via new rules and regulations to make sure that it will be easier for them to make a real go of it. Now we hear from two different sides of this issue – the haves (Bell) and the have nots (Wind). Not surprising was Wind Mobile’s Chairman, Tony Lacavera comment that it was a: “…significant and important step in encouraging more competition, more choice and more value in the Canadian wireless industry,” and he “applaud[s] Minister James Moore for his positive efforts…Canadians are paying too much for wireless services that lag behind the rest of the world – and only increased competition will improve that. Competitive alternatives like WIND Mobile need additional spectrum to grow and flourish. Decisions like [this] recognize that the Canadian wireless industry is maturing and demonstrate that the Government is determined to see that the demands of Canadian consumers are addressed.”
Bell made its opinion known, and again there are no surprises here: “Spectrum is a valuable national resource and shouldn’t be given to selected companies at a bargain. It’s a cost to taxpayers. Bell has always asked for a level playing field in Canadian wireless. We welcome competition, but all competitors new or old should follow the same rules.” Only time will tell if a fourth player will emerge from the pack and if having that fourth carrier will really make a difference in the pricing structure for Canadians. The big companies claim it will make no difference and is not fair to them and the small companies, government and consumer advocate groups think otherwise – who really knows how this will all play out after the regulations have changed and the spectrum has been sold. Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know if you think this will help level the playing field in Canada…as always, we would love to hear from you.