Bell and Telus have asked the Federal Court to block Quebecor’s (Videotron’s) purchase of 5G licences in Western Canada, reports the Globe & Mail. In the June-July auction Quebec-based Videotron acquired 3500MHz 5G spectrum set aside for smaller operators in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba at lower prices than similar spectrum bought by large national cellcos Bell, Telus or Rogers. Videotron indicated the move was a first step in expanding its mobile presence from Quebec and Ottawa while it is also eying up a potential purchase of spectrum which may become available as a knock-on effect of Rogers’ proposed purchase of Shaw Communications (including Freedom Mobile).
In documents filed with the Court, Bell and Telus argue that Videotron should not have been eligible to bid on set-aside spectrum in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba because it is not ‘actively providing commercial telecommunications services to the general public’ in those regions, as required by the auction rules. Bell and Telus claim that Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada (ISED) refused to disclose full details of Videotron’s application, and that it said only that Videotron had indicated it provides B2B over-the-top (OTT) internet services in those regions through affiliate Fibrenoire.