Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Canada wraps up wireless spectrum auction: official

Canada's auction of wireless spectrum has ended after the participating companies halted all bids, a government official told Reuters on Monday.

The official said there had been two consecutive rounds in the auction with no new bids on Monday, prompting auction managers to call an end to the months-long process.

The auction of airwaves over which wireless services are delivered raised C$4.25 billion ($4.25 billion) in 331 rounds of bidding. The proceeds were more than twice the amount analysts had expected.

According to the auction website, Rogers Communications Inc, which owns Canada's largest wireless firm, was the top bidder with offers totaling C$999.4 million.

Telus Corp, Canada's No. 2 phone company, had C$879.9 million in standing high bids. Telecom giant BCE Inc had bids totaling C$740.9 million.

The three companies currently dominate Canada's wireless landscape, though analysts have cautioned that their aggressive spectrum spending could leave them vulnerable to competitive threats posed by newcomers.

The government had set aside a chunk of spectrum exclusively for bidding on by new entrants -- a move the Big Three providers criticized as equal to an unfair subsidy.

As the auction concluded, Quebecor Inc, which had bid a total of C$554.5 million, and Globalive Communications, with bids totaling C$442.1 million, appeared to pose the most serious threat to the existing carriers.

Analysts have suggested that Quebecor, a printing and media firm with an established presence in its home province of Quebec, could partner with Globalive to create a national service provider.