Canadian cellco Wind Mobile has withdrawn from the country’s 700MHz 4G licence auction due to start today (14 January 2014), after its foreign shareholder, Egypt-based Global Telecom Holding (GTH), itself part of the Russian-backed Vimpelcom group, reportedly declined to fund the bidding. The ten remaining bidders include eight companies already active in Canada’s cellular network operating market: Bell, Rogers, Telus, MTS, SaskTel, Videotron, Bragg Communications (Eastlink) and TBayTel. The other two are Feenix Wireless (a 100%-owned company of Mobilicity chairman John Bitove, whose Obelysk investment firm owns a majority voting share and minority equity share in the financially stricken cellco) and Novus Wireless, part of Novus Entertainment, a provider of fibre internet, TV and digital phone services in Vancouver and surrounding areas of British Columbia.
The ‘combinatorial clock’ 700MHz spectrum auction has total starting bids of CAD897.3 million (USD823.08 million), but is expected to raise between CAD3 billion-CAD4 billion. The government will not announce winning bidders for each regional block until five days after the entire nationwide auction closes, which could potentially take anything up to seven weeks.