SaskTel Says Wireless Licence Auction Rules Are Unfair


This November, Ottawa is set to hold wireless spectrum licenses for the coveted 700 MHz band, which can cover larger distances, penetrate buildings and also handle the popularity of data usage better. The Federal Government has said this auction would benefit rural communities and provide better mobile service thanks to this new band.

However, provincially owned telecom SaskTel begs to differ and says this is “myth”. The company wants to grow but that depends on its ability to acquire more spectrum. SaskTel says upcoming auction rules don’t encourage carriers to expand into rural areas, nor provides any sort of competition, in an interview with The Globe and Mail:

“It doesn’t foster competition and it doesn’t help with rural coverage,” Mr. Styles said during an interview in downtown Toronto on Wednesday. He later added: “Give us a level playing field and we will play on it. But when it is tilted against us, don’t try to tell me later on you’re looking for competition.”

Vice-president corporate counsel and regulatory affairs, John Meldrum said the following:

“You know they have a vision of four carriers, right? In Saskatchewan, we have four carriers, but if anything, this auction is going to hurt the fourth carrier. It doesn’t make sense if your goal is to foster competition.”

Auction rules stated earlier this year will limit our incumbents to acquire only one of four licenses in each geographic area; newer entrants will be allowed to purchase two if they outbid the ‘Big 3’.

SaskTel dominates 73 per cent of Saskatchewan’s wireless market. Even with that lead in the provice, the company feels the auction is biased toward incumbents Rogers, TELUS and Bell, even though Industry Minister Christian Paradis has previously said that rural coverage is a priority.

Earlier today, SaskTel announced it had completed another 22 different 4G network infrastructure enhancement projects across Saskatchewan last month, to further address network demand and capacity.

[via The Globe and Mail]