Spectrum auction delivers more wireless competition, mostly in Alberta and BC

Blog, Disruption, Roland Renner

What does the federal government’s policy to enhance wireless competition look like the morning after the 700 MHz spectrum auction results were announced?  We have another player, Videotron, in BC and Alberta.  Videotron, Quebec’s largest cable company, has made a major play to compete in wireless in the west.  Everywhere else it is just about status quo.  Wind and Mobilicity remain as also ran acquisition targets that will eventually be consolidated with one of the larger players.

Rogers was the largest contributor to the total federal revenue take of $5.7 billion.  Telus and Bell, who share the same network, came next. 

In the Atlantic provinces and northern Ontario, Eastlink is continuing to expand its wireless network.  As a cable company it can offer triple and quadruple plays, home phone, video, cellphone and internet.  Videotron can do the same in Quebec but it will not be able to offer it in BC or Alberta, at least not in the traditional way.  Maybe LTE video distribution offerings will be enough to compete for some market segments.

In, Manitoba and Saskatchewan the incumbent provincial telcos remain the largest players.  Sasktel has complained that the spectrum auction rules discriminated against regional carriers threatening its ability to deliver LTE to rural areas.  Telus claims that it will now have an improved ability to expand service in rural areas.

With the addition of Videotron it looks like there will be four wireless competitors in most regions of the country except southern Ontario if we discount Wind and Mobilicity.  That is, if we continue to count Telus and Bell as two separate participants.  The Videotron entry into BC and Alberta will enhance competition.  In the rest of the country, not that much has changed.