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Ottawa Publishes New Rules for Wireless Spectrum Transfers

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The long-awaited rules that will form the Canadian mobile landscape and influence Verizon’s entrance into the market have been unveiled by Industry Minister Christian Paradis, reports the Globe and Mail.

The document is intended to provide guidelines for participating (and interested) wireless players on how the government will evaluate spectrum-license transfer requests. The new rules will apply to all licence transfers, and that includes “option deals” as well. The government’s position on the wireless spectrum transfers between incumbents and wireless startups has remained unchanged in the light of the new rules:

“The Harper Government is committed to promoting at least four wireless providers in every region of the country to support greater competition in the market,” Mr Paradis said in a statement. “We are working to provide Canadian families with access to the latest technology at better prices.”

Ottawa’s rejection of the Telus–Mobilicity deal was already a hint about the new rules; now it is in black and white: the government will review all applications for spectrum-licence transfers on a case-by-case basis, and proposals that could result in “undue spectrum concentration” diminishing competition will be rejected without further questions.

Although it is yet unclear how, the new rules will certainly affect several option deals Rogers has signed recently. In January, Canada’s No. 1 wireless player signed an option deal to acquire Shaw’s unused wireless spectrum, and then in May it inked another option deal for Videótron’s undeployed spectrum.

“Our government has been clear that spectrum set aside for new entrants was not intended to be transferred to incumbents. We will not waive this condition of licence and will not approve this, or any other, transfer of set-aside spectrum to an incumbent ahead of the five-year limit,” Mr. Paradis said while postponing the spectrum auction until January.

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