Good-cop, bad-cop

By Howard Solomon
Assistant editor, Network World Canada

Industry Canada is playing good-cop bad-cop with the AWS spectrum auction.
On Friday it will increase pressure on the remaining few bidders by shortening the time between rounds to 20 minutes from 30. That means they’ll have 15 rounds a day, an increase of three, but with less time between rounds to decide what they really want.
Those of us mortals who have nothing on the line (like reporters) had our hopes raised Thursday when the day started with a couple of $33,000 rounds over one licence. Then everybody woke up. Rogers put a scare into Bragg Communications by putting a high bid on a 20Mhz pice of spectrum over Cape Breton island (which Bragg tugged back the next round), Rogers also jumped onto 20Mhz spectrum Globalive vacated for North Bay, Ont., and Rich Telecom decided to grab Dawson Creek, B.C. from Shaw.
And then the bidding went all over the place, with Rich withdrawing its $118,000 bid on Dawson Creek, after which Rogers withdrew some $1.2 million, and then overall bids went up over $1 million . . . .
Meanwhile, there’s a whole bunch of licences in the “i” block that apparently no one wants. The blocks are mere 5Mhz chunks in the 1670-1675 MHz spectrum.
Some have been bid up too high, apparently, so have withdrawn their bids for several rounds and, as of 4 p.m. Thursday, no one’s willing to step in.
Others, such as the slices covering all of Alberta (212i) and southern Quebec (205i, with a population over 5 million) are apparently so worthless that as of 4 p.m. Thursday no one has bid on them since the auction began. No one.

Which is not to say “i” block stuff has no value. Rogers, for example, is willing to pay $1.2 million for the “i” licence covering eastern Ontario down to Lake Ontario — which also covers highly-travelled Highway 401. And Bell is willing to pay $812,000 for the “i” spectrum covering Eastern Quebec.
I suppose that if you want spectrum for Alberta and southern Quebec, you want to pay big bucks for the good (10Mhz and 20Mhz) licences.

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