Minister in no rush for digital dividend auction: ‘by end of year’

28 Feb 2013

Canada’s Industry Minister Christian Paradis said on Tuesday that the country’s upcoming auction of digital dividend 700MHz frequency licences for nationwide 4G mobile services would take place ‘by the end of 2013’, in an interview following a speech to foreign investors at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Dow Jones Newswires reports. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that as a pre-requisite for proceeding with further 4G spectrum auctions – including 700MHz and 2.5GHz ‘within a year’ of the latter – in June 2012 a legal amendment became effective removing foreign investment restrictions for telecoms operators that hold less than a 10% share of total Canadian telecom market revenues. Subsequently the digital dividend band auction was penciled in for ‘H1 2013’, with a spectrum cap applied so that at least four operators may purchase licences in each region. Mr Paradis’ statement indicates that the auction timeframe has been pushed back further, although he added that the rules for the 700MHz auction would be released soon, without giving an exact timetable, although industry speculation is that they will be presented alongside the 2013 federal budget. The minister expressed hope that Canada’s relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions, combined with the 700MHz availability and clearer rules for infrastructure sharing and roaming, will help attract more overseas investors into the sector.