The 3500 MHz spectrum auction, originally scheduled for December of this year, will now take place in June 2021, the federal government said Friday.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada said in a press release Friday that the delay was to allow “the telecommunications industry to maintain its focus on providing essential services to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It also said the government “remains open to further changes to the timelines for spectrum auctions if necessary.”
It added deadlines in the auction process are also being pushed back by six months.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said in the release that a “number of providers have raised concerns, and the Government is implementing measures to address them. The Government will continue to reach out to telecommunications service providers—and to the private sector more broadly—to understand their challenges and support them to ensure that Canadians have access to high-quality networks and broad coverage at low prices.”
The release also said the government would begin consulting on the 3800 MHz band in August.
“This consultation will give stakeholders the opportunity to comment on how additional spectrum can be used to further support Canada’s world-class wireless infrastructure and progress toward the next generation of connectivity,” the release said.
In a statement, Telus Corp. said it would like to see the auction proceed as fast as possible but appreciated “the government’s recognition of facilities-based carriers for keeping Canadians connected at all times, even during the pandemic.”
“We have long been ready to make the crucial investment in 3500 MHz spectrum and network infrastructure required to realize the full promise of 5G so that Canadian entrepreneurs, businesses, and innovators can leverage the next generation of connectivity that promises to benefit us all,” Telus said in the statement.
“In the interim, we will continue to provide our customers with access to the fastest and most reliable networks possible and focus our efforts on supporting Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 in whatever ways we can.”
Rogers Communications Inc. said in an emailed statement that “our networks are the backbone of so much of our economy and as we continue to rollout Canada’s first 5G network, driving innovation and productivity, we look forward to accessing 3500 MHz spectrum as soon as it is available.”
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