Feds should reserve spectrum space for newcomers: Quebecor

(Shutterstock Photo)

(Shutterstock Photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

The battle within the wireless industry is ramping up once again as Industry Canada is set to announce in the coming weeks whether or not it is reserving the the low 700 MHz frequencies for new mobile telephone companies.

Quebecor made its position known yesterday.

The limits have already been reached to build a new network outside of the major centres on the AWS frequencies, acquired in 2008, said Serge Sasseville, Quebecor Media's vice president of corporate and institutional affairs.

Without reserved space, Sasseville said newcomers to the industry wouldn't be able to offer their customers access to the "next generation of mobile technology."

Ken Engelhart, Rogers' vice president of regulatory affairs, called the reservation of a frequency spectrum a "subsidy." He added he didn't want to see a repeat of 2008, when access to AWS frequencies was also limited to new arrivals.

Sasseville dismissed the suggestion the situation was any kind of subsidy, and suggested Rogers wasn't in a place to be making such claims.

"When Rogers started in the wireless business in the 1980s, they received free spectrum space," said Sasseville. "Today, the goal is to ensure that conditions are in place to grow competition in the industry."

Sasseville said he worries when he looks at the situation facing mobile phone companies in the U.S., where Time Warner, Comcast and Cox Communications recently sold all of their AWS frequencies to Verizon in recent months. Both AT&T and Verizon are developing incompatible technical ecosystems on the low frequencies like 700 MHz.

This should lead the government to allow for the reservation of spectrum space, Sasseville said.