Ottawa Nets $30 Million in Wireless Spectrum Auction: Here’s Who Paid the Most

The Canadian government on Wednesday announced the results of a residual spectrum auction that concluded on January 17.

Residual spectrum auctions are a way for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to sell licences that weren’t sold in previous auctions or were returned. Ottawa held an auction for the 3,800 MHz bands in June 2022, which was preceded by a $5 billion 5G spectrum auction in July 2021.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced that more Canadians will benefit from higher-quality telecom services as a result of the auction of residual spectrum licences that concluded on January 17.

There were a total of 42 licences across the 600, 2,500, and 3,500 MHz bands available in the recent residual spectrum auction.

The government sold a total of 27 licences to six Canadian companies, generating $29.97 million in revenue from the auction.

Bell Mobility bagged the most licences, purchasing eight of them for a whopping $10.6 million. Vidéotron spent the second-highest amount, at $9.9 million for seven licences. Rogers came in third place, buying six licences and paying $2.6 million for its haul.

Many of these licences covered rural and remote areas, Ottawa said. Furthermore, 13 of the licences went to small and regional telecom operators — including the seven to Vidéotron and two each to ECOTEL, Sogetel, and TBayTel.

“Our government recognizes that higher-quality wireless services are crucial to keeping Canadians connected and growing our economy,” said Minister Champagne.

“That’s why we’re committed to making more spectrum available and ensuring providers put it to good use. Today’s results will mean higher-quality services in more of our great country, especially in the rural parts of Canada.”

The awarded licences include deployment requirements designed to ensure that the companies that bought spectrum licences put them to use in a timely manner.