Well, it's not the first half of 2013 as originally promised, but the Canadian government has now set a specific date for the country's first 700MHz spectrum auction: November 19th of this year. Alongside that bit of news, Industry Minister Christian Paradis also detailed a set of rules that he says will help provide consumers with "more choices and more access at better prices." That includes what the government describes as extended and expanded requirements for carriers to allow roaming on their networks, as well as a more general goal to have at least four competitors in each region of the country. Paradis also says the government is tightening its rules to increase cellphone tower sharing, a move aimed to both increase wireless coverage and "reduce cell tower proliferation." You can find his full statement after the break.
New measures to increase competition in the wireless sector
The Honourable Christian Paradis, PC, MP
Minister of Industry
March 7, 2013
Check Against Delivery
Good morning and welcome.
I am proud to announce today the next steps in our government's plan to build a more competitive wireless sector-One that delivers for Canadian families by providing more choices and more access at better prices.
Canada is home to a quarter of North America's fastest-growing wireless companies. We have world-leading strengths in mobile software development, first-class infrastructure and some of the most Internet-savvy citizens in the world.
Our government has worked hard to increase competition in the Canadian wireless sector. In 2008, we set aside wireless spectrum for new entrants. We increased access to networks and infrastructure for wireless companies. Since then, a number of new wireless competitors have emerged and, more importantly, we have seen wireless prices drop by more than 10 percent across Canada.
Last year we removed investment restrictions for those with less than a 10 percent market share. This allowed the companies that needed it most to access the capital and expertise required to grow and compete-and better serve Canadian families and businesses.
By announcing caps for the upcoming wireless spectrum auctions, we reserved additional spectrum for new entrants.
I firmly believe the basis of a strong economy is a competitive marketplace and consumer choice.
Canadian families work hard for their money. Our government is ensuring that they have access to the wireless services they need for their BlackBerrys and iPhones at a price they can afford.
Simply put, since coming to office, we have made a stronger, more competitive wireless sector a priority.
And the results speak for themselves. Consumers have more choice in the wireless market than ever before. Prices have dropped, and most Canadians now have access to faster mobile speeds and the most sophisticated tablets and smartphones.
However, there is much more to do.
Today, our government is implementing a series of measures to ensure that Canadian consumers continue to benefit from more choice in the wireless sector and faster wireless speeds at better prices.
First, our government is expanding-and extending-the requirement for wireless companies to provide roaming on their networks to competitors. This will ensure that all Canadians, even if they are away from home, will still have service regardless of their provider. No Canadian should be left stranded simply because he or she is outside the range of the chosen service provider.
Second, we are tightening the rules to increase cellphone tower sharing, thereby helping to limit the construction of new cell towers. This will reduce cell tower proliferation-a major concern across the country-while ensuring national wireless coverage for consumers.
Third, our government is delivering on our promise to use the upcoming wireless spectrum auctions to promote four competitors in each region of the country. The first of these auctions, the 700 MHz auction, will take place on November 19, 2013.
Rules are in place to facilitate access to wireless spectrum for smaller providers, increase competitiveness and ensure Canadian families continue to see the benefits of the most advanced wireless services.
And lastly, before the auction, we will review the policy on spectrum licence transfers with the objective of promoting competition in the wireless sector. To be clear, our government wants to see at least four players in each market.
To accomplish this, our government will seek stakeholder input on the criteria and process used to review these requests. By undertaking this consultation now, we will ensure that clear procedures are in place well in advance of the upcoming wireless spectrum auctions.
In order for wireless providers to invest in new spectrum and new services for Canadians, they need greater certainty over the next few years. For this reason, I am releasing the Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook. It outlines our government's plan to meet the growing demand for mobile services by Canadians.
Our government's priority is to provide greater wireless coverage at lower rates for consumers. Wireless services are changing our families, our work and our economy-whether these services include the tools that help families stay connected regardless of where they live, access to high-definition video and video conferencing that connects businesses around the world, or greater access to e health, intelligent transport systems and other advanced applications that will revolutionize rural living.
The importance of these technologies is undeniable.
They increase productivity, spur economic growth, create jobs and enhance the quality of life of Canadian families. Through these and many other concrete actions, our government wants to provide all Canadians, no matter where they live, with access to world-class wireless service they can afford.