Canada postpones critical 5G spectrum auction by six months

Shruti Shekar
Telecom & Tech Reporter
REUTERS

Due to COVID-19, Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains has postponed the critical 3500MHz spectrum auction for 5G by six months to June 2021.

A press release from his department indicated that postponing the auction will allow telecom carriers focus on “providing essential services to Canadians” during the pandemic. 

The new date is set for June 15, 2021. 

In general, 5G operates over traditional and new cell radio frequency bands that include the low- (sub-1GHz such as 700MHz), mid- (1.6GHz, around 3.5-3.8GHz), and millimetre-wave (mmWave, such as 28GHz) ranges. 

The 3,500MHz band is critical specifically in cities where thousands of small cells will be deployed in order to be used for applications like self-driving cars and many consumer applications.

The sum of opening bid prices for the auction is $558 million. Last year’s 600MHz spectrum auction raised $3.57 billion. 

“Canada’s telecommunications service providers are doing their part in this difficult time, providing essential services to keep Canadians connected as we face the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic together,” Bains said in the release. 

“A number of providers have raised concerns, and the government is implementing measures to address them. The government will continue to reach out to telecommunications service providers—and to the private sector more broadly—to understand their challenges and support them to ensure that Canadians have access to high-quality networks and broad coverage at low prices.”

Recently, Telus and Bell announced plans to partner with Nokia and Ericsson as a 5G supplier. Rogers is partnered with Ericsson to provide 5G services.

Additionally, Bains indicated that the first tracking report on the 25 per cent reduction in wireless service prices over the next two years will be available online in July 2020.

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