postponement of Canadian 700 MHz spectrum auction 


June 2013

telecommunications bulletin

We have previously written on the details and timing of the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction in Canada (see our telecommunications bulletin of March 2013). The auction had an original application deadline of June 11, 2013 and was originally scheduled to commence in November, 2013.

On June 4, 2013, the Canadian Minister of Industry announced a revised timetable for the 700 MHz spectrum auction. The revised application deadline has been moved to September 17, 2013, and the auction is scheduled to commence on January 14, 2014. The new timetable can be found here.

In the same announcement, the Minister also announced that Industry Canada would not approve TELUS' application for the transfer of Mobilicity's spectrum licenses. Mobilicity's spectrum licenses were acquired in the 2008 Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) auction. The spectrum licenses were part of those set aside for new entrants in the auction and are subject to a five year restriction on the transfer to Canadian incumbents, including TELUS.

Industry Canada will also in the next few weeks release its policy on spectrum licence transfers. The policy follows industry consultations that commenced in March 2013, and is expected to prohibit proposed spectrum transfers that are deemed to result in undue spectrum concentration. The policy will apply to all commercial mobile spectrum licences, including the 2008 AWS licences. Industry Canada has indicated that it will review all applications for licence transfers on a case-by-case basis and that decisions will be issued publicly to increase transparency.

The dates for the 700 MHz spectrum auction were moved forward to provide interested parties with additional time to consider the decisions announced by the Minister and to determine their approaches to the 700 MHz auction process.

These announcements were intended to confirm the government's stated commitment to encourage competition in the wireless market in Canada and to promote at least four wireless providers in every region of the country.

a cautionary note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2013