Wind turns nose up at 700MHz auction

21 Nov 2011

Canadian mobile operator Globalive Wireless (Wind Mobile) is unlikely to enter the country’s upcoming auction of ‘digital dividend’ 700MHz 4G wireless spectrum, particularly if a portion of bandwidth is not reserved for recent market entrants, according to Naguib Sawiris, the former chairman of its Egyptian backer Orascom Telecom. Wind launched 3G services in December 2009 and has expanded to six major cities but has had to overcome legal challenges to its ownership structure, and says it has encountered various other regulatory obstacles. Sawiris said that besides the problems stemming from Canada’s foreign ownership restrictions, the government had failed to carry out its promised implementation of regulations forcing the sharing of cellular towers between incumbent wireless providers and new entrants, inhibiting development. He also complained that Canada has not properly enforced network roaming obligations, resulting in Wind suffering dropped calls when interconnecting with rivals’ networks. In addition, he criticised the government for not committing to proposals to reserve a portion of digital dividend spectrum for new entrants, as it did in the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) 2100MHz/1700MHz auction in July 2008, in which 40% of frequencies were allocated to newcomers, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.

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