Clement gets ball rolling on 700MHz and 2500MHz licensing

18 Oct 2010

Canada’s Industry Minister, Tony Clement, told reporters on Friday that he has instructed his department ‘to get ready and start the process rolling’ for the upcoming auctions of 2500MHz and 700MHz wireless spectrum, earmarked for 4G mobile broadband services. As reported by Reuters, although Clement did not give a timeframe, he added that both bands would be auctioned once potential bidders have sufficient available capital, and uncertainty surrounding foreign ownership laws is cleared once and for all, whilst Industry Canada has previously set a deadline of end-2012 for the auction of ‘digital dividend’ 700MHz frequencies made available by the transfer from analogue to digital broadcasting. The minister said that consultations with major telecoms companies, especially regarding their ability to raise funds, would continue. Industry Canada previously overruled a decision by the independent regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecoms Commission (CRTC), which had ruled that recent 3G cellular entrant Globalive (Wind Mobile), funded by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, breached rules restricting non-Canadian ownership in the telecoms sector, despite complying with the 20% foreign-held voting shares ceiling. Clement and other government figures subsequently revealed that options were under consideration to loosen foreign ownership restrictions, and the minister stressed that the issue would need to be resolved ahead of the new auctions. ‘The two [issues] are not really divorced, because people have to know what access to [foreign] capital they’re going to have before they can bid in an auction,’ he said.