Canada’s Industry Minister James Moore has issued a statement that companies holding under-utilised frequency licences intended for rural fixed-wireless broadband services must return the spectrum and will not be allowed to renew their concessions. Licences in the 2300MHz and 3500MHz bands auctioned in 2004-2009 are scheduled for renewal in March 2014, and the minister stated: ‘Our government will only renew spectrum licences for those holders that have met all conditions of licence. Those that have not used the spectrum will lose it.’ Licence stipulations vary from region to region, with minimum population coverage levels ranging from 15% in rural areas to 50% in urban areas.
Xplornet Communications, Canada’s largest rural broadband service provider, praised Industry Canada’s decision to deny applications for extensions of 3500MHz spectrum licences where rollout conditions have not been met. Xplornet president Allison Lenehan said: ‘This Minster is listening to the needs of rural Canadians by ensuring that Industry Canada applies the rules fairly to all telecom services in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of rural Canadians access the internet through fixed-wireless networks that operate on spectrum. Today’s announcement is a clear signal that spectrum designated for broadband use should be used for that purpose so that rural Canadians can experience the full benefits of broadband technology.’