The minister of Industry Canada, responsible for telecoms policy decisions, indicated to reporters yesterday that he is against a deal under which nationwide mobile operator Rogers Communications gained an option to buy cableco Shaw Communications’ 2100MHz AWS frequency licences in 2014 when they become valid for sale having been awarded in a 2008 auction to encourage new wireless entrants. Quoted by Reuters news agency, Industry Minister Christian Paradis responded to questions about Shaw’s spectrum trading plan by saying: ‘The intent of the [2008 AWS spectrum auction] policy was not to have this set-aside spectrum to end [up] in the hands of incumbents.’ The comment comes amid a public consultation, launched last month, aimed at forming new rules for spectrum licence transfers, with a focus on deciding whether such sales could degrade the competitiveness of the market. Meanwhile, consumer and advocacy groups have lobbied the industry minister to block the sale of AWS spectrum to Rogers; Industry Canada has the final say on licence awards and transfers, and can overrule the sector regulator, the CRTC.
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