Government of Canada announces spectrum auction rules supporting high-quality and affordable wireless services 

News release

Decision on 3800 MHz spectrum auction rules will support more competition and the deployment of 5G services    

June 30, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canadians rely more than ever on wireless services for work, school, finances and health care, making access to high-quality and affordable services essential. That is why the Government of Canada is making spectrum available to encourage competition in the wireless services market, improve rural connectivity and ensure the effective deployment of 5G technologies.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced a decision on the 3800 MHz spectrum auction rules. These rules ensure that it will be possible to support higher quality and more affordable wireless services. They include measures proven to help promote competition and the fast deployment of services, such as: 

  • imposing a 100 MHz cap on the large national providers as to how much combined 3500 MHz and 3800 MHz spectrum they can acquire;
  • reserving a total of 150 MHz across the 3500 MHz and 3800 MHz spectrum bands for smaller competitors; and 
  • implementing strong deployment requirements ensuring companies must “use or lose” the spectrum they win. 

Building on the success of similar measures for the recently auctioned 3500 MHz spectrum band, these rules will help to ensure Canadians—no matter where they live—will benefit from telecom services that are reliable, innovative, competitive and affordable. 


“Our government recognizes that high-quality telecom services are crucial in the everyday lives of Canadians. That’s why we’re committed to making more spectrum available to improve competition, innovation and affordability. Today’s announcement of the new rules for the 3800 MHZ spectrum auction is an important step in our ongoing efforts to ensure Canadians have access to affordable and high-quality services from coast to coast to coast.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Our government wants to ensure that all Canadians—including those in rural, northern and remote communities—have access to fast, affordable and reliable Internet services. Making more spectrum available will equate to lower wireless prices for Canadians as competition ramps up. Today’s announcement includes the strongest spectrum deployment requirements to date, ensuring providers will act quickly to provide higher quality services from Prince Rupert to Yellowknife and all the way to Fogo Island.”
– The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development

Quick facts

  • These rules follow the decision to repurpose the 3800 MHz band to support 5G services, which was announced in 2021, and is the next major step in the lead-up to the 3800 MHz spectrum auction planned for 2023. 

  • The pro-competition measures for the 3800 MHz band continue to build on those used for the recent 3500 MHz auction, through which small and regional providers increased their total spectrum holdings by over 50%, strengthening their ability to offer competitive services. 

  • The 3800 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum bands are globally recognized as key for supporting 5G networks and rural wireless services, and ISED has designed similar rules for both auctions.

  • This is one of many measures ISED is looking at to impose “use it or lose it” rules for spectrum; a number of additional consultations were launched in August 2021.

  • The government is currently consulting on the Auction Policy and Licensing Framework for mmWave spectrum, which proposes to make even more spectrum available for wireless services. 


Laurie Bouchard
Senior Manager, Communications
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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