Government searches for spectrum to fuel wireless competition

The federal government released more details about how it plans to ensure a fourth wireless carrier in each region across Canada to compete with the wireless incumbent triad of Bell, Rogers, and Telus.

The Conservatives see it as a priority to bring down wireless rates for Canadians, said Minister of Industry Christian Paradis this morning at an Ottawa press conference. It’s the agenda that saw Industry Canada release new wireless spectrum for new entrants to the cell phone market in 2008, and now the government is reaffirming its policies ahead of a new wireless spectrum that would be ideal for faster LTE networks. The 700 MHz auction is now scheduled to begin Nov. 19, according to the government, and its outcome could spell the fate of new entrants such as Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile.

Related Story: Rogers ‘brazen’ deal for Shaw’s spectrum will doom new wireless entrants: advocacy groups

A five-year plan also released by the government today says Canada’s wireless market will require between 423 MHz and as much as 820 MHz of spectrum to be released by 2017. But as of right now, the government’s planned auctions only cover 528 MHz of spectrum, so the government is looking for more to get to its goal of setting aside 750 MHz for the wireless market by 2017.

The government says it could find that extra spectrum in several areas. One frequency range is currently set aside for point-to-point microwave communications that are still used, but very limited. Bands near the 2 GHz range are currently allocated for weather forecasting satellite and radio services, but are lightly used and could be repurposed with some technical rejigging. Other spectrum is identified in similar satellite services that aren’t offering much in the way of services to the public.

Related Story: Wind, Mobilicity split on Ottawa spectrum ruling

The government will also be looking to expand the requirement for incumbent carriers to offer their networks to competitors for roaming services, according to a press release. Carriers will also be asked to share cell towers more often so coverage will be improved overall and the number of towers needed will be reduced.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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