3500 MHz auction – Process and results


Bidding in the 3500 MHz band auction began on June 15, 2021, and ended on July 23, 2021.

The 3500 MHz auction is a key milestone in the deployment of 5G services in Canada. The increased number of connections and data-intensive applications expected with 5G will require large amounts of spectrum in a variety of frequency bands. In Canada, the 3500 MHz band has historically been used to provide fixed wireless Internet services, but in the past few years, it has been globally recognized as key for 5G networks as it provides both coverage and capacity for a wide array of new applications.

Twenty-three companies participated in the auction. In total, 1,495 out of 1,504 available licences were awarded to 15 Canadian participants, including 757 licences to small and regional providers across the country. The opening bid for all available spectrum was set at approximately $590 million, and competitive bidding resulted in final auction revenues of $8.91 billion. These revenues will be remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, administered by the Receiver General of Canada.

The government set rules for the auction, including a set-aside of up to 50 MHz where available for small and regional providers to enhance competition in the Canadian wireless market—a method that has been shown to help lower prices. The spectrum acquired by these companies will support the deployment of high-quality wireless services so consumers and businesses across Canada, including those in rural and remote regions, can enjoy the transformative benefits of the latest wireless technologies.

The auction followed a clock auction format, which has been used in many recent auctions by regulators around the world. Like any other auction format, the clock auction format uses supply and demand to arrive at the final price. It includes an allocation (clock) stage and an assignment stage. The allocation stage determines the number of 10 MHz blocks that a bidder will win for each service area. The assignment stage determines the specific frequencies that will be assigned to each winning bidder.

In this auction, 103 rounds of bidding took place over 25 business days.

Winning bidders have until August 13, 2021, to submit 20% of their total final payment. The remaining 80% is due on October 4, 2021.

For more information, see the 3500 MHz auction home page.

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