The Canadian Department of Industry, Science, and Economic Development has stated that the auction of 600 MHz frequency to the wireless carriers will be set back by two more years. At this point, even the public consultation on how the auction will proceed, including its policies and operating procedures, has yet to have a set date. This is despite the agreement that the Canadian ISED and its American counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission, reached back in 2015 that the two regulators will proceed with the auction of the 600MHz frequency, which is previously held by the television stations, at around the same time.
Several concerns may have caused the delay in the Canadian auction of the 600MHz band. The first concern is the intertwined relationships between the wireless carriers and Canadian broadcasters, with some of the carriers owning broadcast media assets. For example, Bell, a wireless carrier, owns CTV, a national broadcaster while Rogers also own Citytv. This means that the incentive auction system of the FCC, which pays the television stations for the frequencies they have sold, will not effectively work in Canada as it will simply revolve the money between different divisions of the same company. Also, the Canadian wireless carrier industry is composed of major carriers and several upstarts across the country, with the upstarts being much weaker competition compared to Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States. Therefore, these upstart carriers may not have much impact on the Canadian carrier industry unless they provide cutting edge competition. In order to better compete with the larger carriers, upstart carriers like Videotron are calling for a more equitable auction of the 600MHz spectrum.
The 600MHz frequency band is very important to the upstart Canadian wireless carriers like Freedom Mobile and Videotron as it allows them to expand their reach and better compete with larger carriers, especially in terms of LTE coverage. One of the major advantages of the 600MHz band is to improve penetration of LTE signals within the buildings, which is something that upstart carriers cannot currently do due to the frequencies that were given to them. The 600MHZ frequency will also allow the smaller carriers to cover a larger area with smaller infrastructure cost, with Videotron estimating that it will take only a third to a fifth of the number of towers to cover the same area with 600MHz compared to higher frequency bands.