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Canada completed its 3.5GHz 5G auction

The auction raised 8.9 billion CAD (6 billion EUR) after 103 rounds of bidding

The government’s Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada (ISED) department announced the results of the country’s 3.5 GHz 5G spectrum auction. Initially scheduled for June 2020, the process began on June 15, 2021, and raised 8.9 billion CAD (6 billion EUR) after 103 rounds of bidding.

The three largest carriers bid the most in the auction, but the Canadian government pointed out that, as intended, 50MHz were set aside for smaller and rural operators in markets where enough spectrum is available. 5G mobile broadband and fixed wireless access are the primary use cases for the frequency band.

The 200MHz (3450MHz-3650MHz) bandwidth was divided into 20×10 MHz TDD blocks in each of the 172 geographical licensing regions. Only nine licences went unsold. Out of 23 applicants, 20 winners were awarded 3.5 GHz spectrum under 20-year concessions.

Rogers Communications bid 2.7 billion CAD (2.3 billion EUR) for 325 licences and received 509 transitioned licences, covering a combined 34.9 million population. Bell Mobility acquired 271 licences at auction and received 490 transitioned licences, covering a combined 34.3 million population for a total of 1.7 billion CAD (1.4 billion EUR). Telus spent 1.5 billion CAD (1.3 billion EUR) and received 142/86 auctioned/transitioned licences covering 24.9 million people.

The last Canadian spectrum auction took place in April 2019, with the government raising 3.4 billion CAD (2.3 billion EUR) in the sale of 104 licenses of 600 MHz spectrum. Rogers Communications dominated the bidding, paying 1.7 billion CAD (1.1 billion EUR) for 52 licences covering 35 million people. Telus offered 931 million CAD (607 million EUR) for 12 licences covering almost 20 million people. Bell Canada did not participate in the 600 MHz auction, explaining that it already possesses other low-band spectrum to deliver broadband 4G and 5G services.

The three main operators in Canada launched non-standalone 5G services in 2020 on their existing spectrum.

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