The 10 companies who are going after prized spectrum

Rogers Communications Inc.

The biggest mobile wireless carrier in the country. According to CRTC figures, at the end of 2012 Rogers had 34 per cent of the 28 million wireless subscribers through its Rogers, Fido and Chatr brands. In its home province of Ontario, where it has a substantial cable network, Rogers has 40 per cent of the market. Rogers acquired Fido through its acquisition of Microcel in 2004. Outside this auction, it hopes to buy unused spectrum bought in the 2008 auction by Videotron and Shaw Communications.

 

Bell Mobility

The wireless arm of BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada, Bell is the incumbent telephone company in Ontario and Quebec, and it controls Bell Aliant in the Maritimes. Through its Bell, Solo and Virgin brands it has 28 per cent of the market nationally, over half the market in the Maritimes, the leader in Quebec with one-third of the market, and second in Ontario. It shares a wireless network with Telus.

 

Telus Communications Co.

Burnaby, B.C.-based-based Telus is roughly tied with Bell nationally, which each having a 28 per cent share of the market. In British Columbia and Alberta, two provinces where it is the incumbent phone company, it has 40 and 50 per cent of the market. But in B.C. Rogers is close behind. Telus became a national wireless carrier in 2000 when it bought Clearnet Communications. Pending government approval, it will buy Public Mobile – which only started business in mid- 2010 — and its roughly 250,000 subscribers. It is trying to buy Mobilicity.

Combined Rogers, Bell and Telus – who have LTE networks — have just over 90 per cent of subscribers and 85 per cent of the spectrum Ottawa has sold or given out since 1995, which is why Ottawa tailored the 2008 auction to encourage new entrants. In this auction it has capped the amount of spectrum the Big Three can buy.

Videotron

Owned by the Quebecor conglomerate, and arch-enemy of Bell, it’s able to offer subscribers bundled cable, Internet and phone services. Like Wind, it has an HSPA network and would love to have 700 MHz spectrum to upgrade to LTE. Has no trouble finding money to bid.

 

Bragg Communications

The parent of Maritime cableco Eastlink, which launched its LTE wireless service 12 months ago after winning spectrum in the 2008 auction. While Eastlink has several cable networks across the country in rural areas, its home is New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI.

SaskTel

The incumbent phone company of Saskatchewan,

Manitoba Telecom Services

The incumbent phone company of Manitoba.

Tbay Tel

The incumbent phone company of Thunder Bay, Ont., with a wireless network built by Rogers.

Feenix Wireless

Owned by Toronto entrepreneur John Bitove, who is also the leader of Mobilicity, another of the class of 2008 startups. However, Mobilicity has run into financial trouble and is in court-ordered protection from creditors until it can either restructure or be sold to Telus – which is thought to be unlikely because Ottawa has already said no twice.

 

Novus Wireless

Headed by Vancouver entrepreneur Terrence Hui, with financing from a Luxembourg company reportedly linked to a Taiwan computer maker. Novus bought spectrum in 2008, repeatedly told us it was preparing to build a network in Vancouver, and ended up selling spectrum to Telus last year.

 

Globalive Wireless Management Corp. (Wind Mobile)

UPDATE: On Jan. 13, 2014 Wind pulled out of the auction, a day before it was to start

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