Ottawa Reiterates Spectrum Auction Anti-Collusion Rules to Carriers

Industry Canada has warned wireless carriers to avoid breaking the auction’s strict anti-collusion rules, which ban them from stating what licenses they will bid on come January 2014, reports the Globe and Mail. Below is an email snippet sent to carriers dated September 12:

“Discussions regarding the mere intent to participate in the auction are not considered to contravene the rules. However, an applicant or potential applicant is precluded from sharing information including, but not limited to, bidding strategy such as the specific licences or licence areas under consideration, or the amount or magnitude that the applicant is willing to pay. Statements that indicate national or particular licence areas of interest will generally be found to be in contravention of the rules on prohibition of collusion.”

Industry Canada also went on to reiterate the 700MHz auction differs from other auctions as it utilizes anonymous bidding and reduced public disclosure from telcos on their intentions.

The email was sent out to prospective bidders two days after MTS CEO Pierre Blouin’s comments at Bank of Montreal’s 14th annual Media and Telecom conference, where he declared the company had no plans to bid on 700MHz airwaves outside of Manitoba.

The message was interpreted by journalists and industry executives as the carrier’s intentions to stay within the province when it would come to bidding, possibly violating anti-collusion rules, as stated in the above email.

Despite a vigorous summer PR campaign by the Big 3 against Ottawa to revise its auction rules deemed as “unfair”, the deadline for spectrum applications and deposits today has come and gone.