We will soon get an idea of the framework of a Canadian 5G cellular network, as Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is set to launch the 600 mHz spectrum auction at 10:00 AM on March 12; its first spectrum auction since 2015.

“This is an important occasion for the department and the telecom industry,” said a senior official from ISED at a media briefing on Monday. “It also has the potential to impact numerous Canadian communities.”

The auction will be divided into 16 geographical areas, with 70 mHz split into seven 10 mHz blocks available for bidding in each area; totalling 112 total licences available. Of that 70 mHz, 40 mHz will be available to all bidders, and 30 mHz will only be available to regional providers and not the Big Three national telecom providers.

“It furthers the government of Canada’s commitment to promoting greater competition in the telecom sector,” said a senior official from ISED. “To improve services for Canadian consumers and businesses in both urban and rural areas.”

The auction will remain completely confidential until its completion and will include a comprehensive, multi-step bidding process and be governed by a combinatorial clock auction (CCA) format; meaning the products will be offered in packages as opposed to individually, which ISED says will eliminate the risk of a provider getting some but not all of the licenses they require. As well, the auction will feature the “second price rule,” meaning that the winning bid will be adjusted so that the total paid will just top the second place bid.

Licences will come with a 20-year term, allowing for predictability in long-term business planning. When a provider is awarded licences, it will have requirements for deployment to meet at specific milestones: after five years, 10 years, and 20 years. Any failure to meet those requirements could result in a revoking of some or all of their licence and/or monetary populations. These requirements will differ based on population density of the geographical area the licence applies to and these requirements will apply to how much of the population has been provided service.

Winners will be announced up to five business days after the end of bidding (which will depend on how much demand there is, according to ISED) and the announcement will outline whom won licences, which licences they won, and how much was paid.

IT World Canada will provide updates on the winners of the spectrum when the government releases the results.

 

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