Canada auctioning AWS-3 band before April

8 Jul 2014

Following on from its nationwide 700MHz 4G licence auction completed in February, Industry Canada yesterday (7 July 2014) announced that it will launch an auction of ‘AWS-3’ mobile spectrum (1700MHz/2100MHz paired frequencies in bands adjacent to the existing AWS licensed 3G/4G spectrum) early next year – before the 2500MHz licence auction scheduled for April 2015. An announcement from the ministry said that AWS-3 spectrum is ‘ideal for delivering fast, reliable service [including 4G LTE] to Canadians on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices’, while anticipating that the proximity to the operational AWS band will facilitate expedited network deployment and availability of consumer handsets. The AWS-3 auction will have rules including:

- a 30MHz block of spectrum (of a total of 50MHz of available bandwidth) set aside for operating new entrants;

- strict provisions on the transfer of AWS-3 spectrum so that Canadian consumers benefit from increased competition in wireless services; and

- a simpler, shorter auction process that will provide operating new entrants with a visible path to high-quality spectrum.

Specifically, the government will set aside one 30MHz block of AWS-3 spectrum in each region of the country; wireless carriers with less than 10% national and 20% provincial/territorial wireless subscriber market share will be eligible to bid on the ‘set-aside’ in licence areas where they are providing services.

Consultations on the licensing of this spectrum will begin ‘this summer’, the release added. Feedback is being sought on proposed details, including:

- whether licences for AWS-3 should include deployment requirements in both the short term (for example, five years after the licences are issued) and the long term (ten years after); and

- whether a simplified and accelerated auction process, using a sealed-bid format, would be the best approach to encourage participation.

TeleGeography notes that in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently consulting on an upcoming auction of AWS-3 frequencies (in the 1695MHz-1710MHz, 1755MHz-1780MHz and 2155MHz-2180MHz bands).

Canada, Industry Canada,

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