There’s a wireless revolution afoot. Mobile phone vendors are rolling out handsets that let consumers and professionals perform a variety of tasks on the go, such as scanning stock prices, booking tickets to an evening concert, or even buying a book. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) makers are also leaping into the fray by adding wireless capabilities to their latest models. And in the bigger bandwidth arena, suppliers are shipping microwave and radio gear that allows businesses to get high-speed WAN connections even if their office buildings don’t have decent fibre hook-ups.

Given that all this wireless capability is either available now, or will be available in the immediate future, it seems surprising that last winter a handful of obscure companies shelled out tens of millions of dollars for Industry Canada broadband wireless licences in the 24GHz and 38GHz bands. Yet shell out they did, enriching the Canadian government’s coffers by more than $170 million. The immediate question would appear to be, “Why?” What can these broadband wireless spectrum holders offer enterprises that existing wireless and wireline networks cannot?