Bell and Telus asks Federal Court to block Videotron’s 5G specrum purchase

Bell and Telus have asked the Federal Court to block Videotron’s purchase and revoke its bidding rights for certain set-aside 5G spectrum licenses in the 3,500 MHz spectrum auction that concluded on July 29.

They also demand that ISED hold a new auction for the contested spectrums once they’ve been released.

In the 3,500MHz bidding process, Videotron was able to acquire set-aside licenses in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia in addition to licenses in Ontario and Quebec. Videotron says it’s eligible as it provides over-the-top fibre optic internet to business customers through its affiliate company, Fibrenoire.

To foster greater competition, ISED and the CRTC set aside around 25 per cent of the total 3,500MHz spectrum for regional facility-based carriers to compete against the national carriers that have 10 per cent more of the market share.

To qualify to bid on the set-aside licenses, the provider must operate in the Tier 2 areas, which are generally province-wide, as well as the specific Tier 4 areas where they’re providing wireless service.

Unlike Bell, Rogers and Telus whose service areas span Canada, Videotron chiefly provides service in the province of Quebec and Ottawa in Ontario. When its customers travel outside of its native coverage areas, they switch to Rogers’ networks to maintain their connections.

ISED telecom tier 2 sevice areas
Tier 2 service areas, in blue.
ISED telecom tier 4 sevice areas
Tier 4 service areas, in green.

In its court filing, Bell said that Videotron does not qualify as a set-aside bidder in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia according to ISED’s Policy and Licensing Framework for Spectrum in the 3500 MHz Band which specifies that:

“Eligibility to bid on set-aside spectrum will be limited to those registered with the CRTC as facilities-based providers, that are not National Mobile Service Providers, that are actively providing commercial telecommunications services to the general public in the relevant Tier 2 area of interest, effective as of the date of application to participate in the 3500 MHz auction.”

Bell argued that because Fibrenoire is an over-the-top service, it does not develop its own infrastructure and therefore is not a facility-based provider. Moreover, Bell said that Fibrenoire does not provide telecom services to the “general public”, only to businesses.

Furthermore, Bell alleged that ISED “unreasonably interpreted and applied the auction framework, discriminated among bidders, and exceeded their statutory authority” as ISED did not adequately explain how it qualified Quebecor as a set-aside bidder.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, chief executive officer of Quebecor, Videotron’s parent company, rebuffed the claims that ISED’s selection process was unfair.

“Videotron secured the right to bid on set-aside spectrum in several provinces outside Quebec based on the activities of its affiliate Fibrenoire Inc.,” said Péladeau in a statement dating back to mid-August. “Detailed evidence regarding these activities was provided to ISED during the auction application process. It was based on this evidence that ISED correctly determined Videotron’s eligibility.”

“This is just another attempt from Bell and Telus to eliminate real competition, but Canadians deserve better than today’s overpriced wireless marketplace,” said Péladeau in a Canadian Press report.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

Featured Articles

ADaPT connects employers with highly skilled young workers

Help wanted. That’s what many tech companies across Canada are saying, and research shows...

Unlocking Transformation: IoT and Generative AI Powered by Cloud

Amidst economic fluctuations and disruptive forces, Canadian businesses are steering through uncharted waters. To...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now