Niagra falls at first hurdle; 27 shortlisted for wireless auction

1 Apr 2008

Industry Canada has released a list of 27 qualified bidders for the country’s upcoming wireless spectrum auction, with three applicants dropped from the list, including mystery firm Niagra Networks which had previously registered the largest bidding deposit. After sparking rumours that it was backed by a major US mobile operator, Niagra withdrew its application, according to a statement from Industry Canada. There are no major international bidders in the line-up for the auction, scheduled for 27 May, in which 105MHz of frequencies in the 2GHz band are up for grabs. Nationwide cellular operators Rogers, Bell and Telus are competing for frequencies to expand and improve existing services, but the new allocations include 40MHz bandwidth specifically reserved for newcomers on the national stage. Auction rules state that start-up licensees must build their own infrastructure, but are also entitled to piggyback on the three national incumbents’ networks at market rates for ten years. Other bidders include: regional full-service operators Manitoba Telecom Services (in a consortium with private equity partners) and SaskTel, cablecos Videotron, Shaw and Bragg (Eastlink), small Thunder Bay-based telco TBayTel, Jaguar Wireless, Mipps, Globalive and US-Canadian venture Data & Audio-Visual Enterprises Wireless (aka DAVE), which is partly backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.