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Spectrum auction set to transform Canada's mobile market

331 rounds of bidding ends market's Advanced Wireless Services auction

It was a bold move by the Canadian government to reserve such a large chunk of the new spectrum for new market entrants, and the early signs are that at least one new national operator and several key regional or niche players should emerge to challenge the incumbent operators. The spectrum is not as advanced as the 700MHz airwaves recently auctioned in the US (an auction not expected in Canada for another 18 months) but it is well suited to high-speed technologies such as WCDMA, WCDMA-HSPA and (eventually) LTE, which will see Canadian operators offering many consumers genuine mobile broadband services and speeds for the first time. By arriving relatively late to the game, Canadian operators will benefit from widespread vendor support and, more importantly, a wide range of compatible handsets. Rogers Wireless, for example, has already launched Apple's iPhone 3G and is set to launch the WCDMA-HSPA-compatible Blackberry Bold very soon. Both these high-profile devices are based on GSM technology, and is perhaps another reason why Canada's CDMA operators may see the AWS spectrum opportunity as a way of switching to the GSM technology roadmap.

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