700MHz Auction Won’t Reignite Wireless Competition in Canada, Experts Say

Cell tower

Ottawa raised $4.3 billion and force-ignited competition as a result of the 2008 wireless spectrum auction. This won’t happen in 2014, due to a lack of foreign investment. The result: Consumers can forget about what the government promises, more competition in the Canadian mobile landscape, at least according to experts speaking with the Canadian Press.

Five years ago, five new players stepped into the Canadian mobile market: Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, Public Mobile, Vidéotron, and Eastlink.

These players have been trying to gain foothold in a market controlled by three major players: Rogers, Telus, and Bell.

What happened with the five new entrants is an open secret: Public Mobile was acquired by Telus, and Mobilicity is under court protection and wants to sell its wireless license. Wind Mobile is up for sale as well, but for now it appears to be the most viable of all wireless startups, with over 600,000 subscribers.

The only way the government can increase competition is to lift all foreign investment restrictions, law professor Michael Geist believes. The government has taken this step, but it has limited it to wireless players with a market share of less than 10%. Now, as the current state of the Canadian wireless market shows, this simply isn’t enough.

In the end, we are one day away from the 700MHz auction, and there are 11 Canadian players interested in acquiring spectrum. There was a foreign investor in sight, but in the end it decided to focus its money on something else.

This auction will be a key factor in 2014’s Canadian mobile landscape, but next year there will be another important milestone: the 2500MHz spectrum auction.

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