Industry Canada says participants in wireless spectrum auction have paid up

OTTAWA – Industry Minister James Moore says telecom companies that took part in the wireless spectrum auction in January that raised a record $5.27 billion have paid up in full for their licences.

Moore made the announcement on Twitter in a short tweet about the 700 megahertz spectrum auction, noting the licences have been transferred to winning bidders.

However, the January auction failed to immediately entice a fourth major player into the Canadian wireless market to provide more competition — and over the last several months Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) have raised rates on some cellphone plans by similar amounts.

Some of the telecom companies are starting to roll out plans for the spectrum — radio waves needed to operate cellphone networks — which is considered ideal both for rural areas and dense urban cities.

Rogers paid the most for its spectrum, $3.29 billion for 22 licenses across the country, and says it will start deploying it later this year to provide an improved mobile video experience.

Telus spent just over $1.14 billion for 30 licenses, while Bell spent $565.7 million for 31 licenses and says it will start deploying the spectrum in rural and remote areas right away.

Quebec-based Videotron (TSX:QBR.B) has said it’s in no hurry to expand its wireless business outside the province. It bought wireless spectrum in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia for $233 million, opening an opportunity for it to expand beyond its borders to become a major wireless carrier after Rogers, Bell and Telus, which have a combined total of 27 million subscribers.

Regional telecom Manitoba Telecom Services (TSX:MBT) says it will use the spectrum in its network to add more high-speed data capacity.