Three small players have withdrawn from wireless spectrum auction

OTTAWA – A dozen wireless firms — but no large foreign companies — are on the final list of qualified bidders in Industry Canada’s upcoming auction for the airwaves needed to operate cellphone networks.

The 700-megahertz auction set for January is key for companies looking to get a piece of the wireless spectrum that is considered valuable for its ability to penetrate buildings in big cities and to travel farther distances in rural areas, requiring fewer cellphone towers.

Three small players have withdrawn from the Jan. 14 auction after expressing an initial interest.

British-Columbia-based Vecima Networks, Toronto-based BN Wave Acquisition Corp., and Calgary-based numbered company 1770129 Alberta Inc. are off the list and won’t be taking part in the auction.

The final list of participants includes: Bell (TSX:BCE), Rogers, (TSX:RCI.B), Telus (TSX:T), Quebec’s Videotron (TSX:QBR.B), Manitoba Telecom Services (TSX:MBT) and Globalive Wireless Management Corp. which is the legal entity for Wind Mobile.

Also on the list are: Northern Ontario-based TBayTel, Halifax-based Bragg Communications Inc., Saskatchewan Telecommunications, Vancouver-based Novus Wireless Inc., private equity the Catalyst Capital Group Inc. and Feenix Wireless Inc., which lists John Bitove as CEO. Bitove is struggling carrier’s Mobilicity’s executive chairman.

The federal government wants to have four wireless companies competing in every region of the country.