Mobilicity-Wind faceoff in AWS-3 spectrum auction

Mobile carriers Wind Mobile and Mobilicity will be competing for a large chunk of the AWS-3 spectrum that the government has set aside for new entrants, in the upcoming March 3 spectrum auction.

Industry Canada has released the initial list of qualified bidders who have put in the $65 million entry deposit for the auction of spectrum lice4nses for Advanced Wireless Services in bands 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz (AWS-3).

The bidding carriers are:

Bell Mobility Inc.

Bragg Communications Inc. (Eastlink)

Data & Audio-Visual Enterprise Wireless Inc. (Mobilicity)

MTS Inc.

Rogers Communications Partnership

Saskatchewan Telecom

TBay Tel


Wind Mobile

The AWS-3 spectrum auction rules have been set to favour small wireless players:

  • A large block of spectrum (more than half or 30 megahertz out of 50 megahertz total) is set aside for operating new entrants (those that own less than 10 per cent national market share and 20 per cent regional share);
  • Strict provisions on the transfer of AWS-3 spectrum so that Canadian consumers benefit from increased competition in wireless services; and
  • A simpler, shorter auction process that will provide operating new entrants with a visible path to high-quality spectrum

These rules mean that that Wind and Mobilicity will be the only two companies allowed to bid on that set aside block of spectrum in Southern Ontario and parts of Alberta and British Columbia (areas that the two companies compete in against incumbents).


Videotron which has less than 20 per cent regional share in Quebec on that spectrum may likely have a stake on that block as well, according to mobile news site Mobilsyrup.

Winners will be able to hold onto the licences for 20 years. However, they need to prove to Industry Canada that a significant amount of the spectrum has been deployed within eight years.

Also this year, the government will auction spectrum licences for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) in the band 2500-2690 MHz.


“Less than one year ago, nearly 90 percent of spectrum was held by Canada’s largest wireless companies,” said Industry Minister James Moore. “Due to these auctions, by May 2015 we expect new wireless companies to hold over 25 percent of the total wireless spectrum available.”

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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