Wireless companies pay $5.3B to expand

Industry Minister James Moore. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

Industry Minister James Moore. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

Daniel Proussalidis, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 6:38 PM ET

OTTAWA – Wireless companies will drop almost $5.3 billion into the feds' purse following the auction of high-powered signals for mobile phones and other communications devices.

Industry Minister James Moore announced Wednesday that eight companies won part of the 700-megahertz frequency in various parts of the country following a month-long auction.

Moore said that creates a mix of at least four wireless competitors in every province offering a signal that can better penetrate underground in parking garages, elevators and other places mobile phones often can't reach.

“I think you’ll see a competition for the consumer, which will mean you’ll have a competition which will drive down prices and provide more choices,” he said.

Rogers, Bell and Telus won the biggest chunk of spectrum, but some other wireless companies will also be able to spread out into parts of the country where they haven't operated before.

Videotron, owned by Sun Media parent Quebecor, will now be able to expand into B.C. and Alberta, as well as southern and eastern Ontario.

Robert Depatie, president and CEO of Videotron, said executives will work out the best way to use the new frequency.

“We now have a number of options available to us to maximize the value of our investment,” Depatie said in a statement.

The auction also means Eastlink can break out of its base in the Maritimes after winning some signals in northern Ontario, though most of what it bought is in the Atlantic Provinces.

Companies that bought signal will be able to start rolling out service by mid-April.


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