02/05/2015 04:00 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT

Wind and Mobilicity seek to be among the bidders on spectrum in upcoming auction

OTTAWA - Small Canadian wireless companies Wind Mobile and Mobilicity have applied to be among the bidders in Ottawa's upcoming auction of AWS-3 spectrum, or advanced wireless services, next month, the federal government said Thursday.

Wind Mobile is also seeking to participate in the auction of 2,500 MHz auction that will take place in April.

The country's big three wireless players — Bell (TSX:BCE), Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Telus (TSX:T) — have also applied to participate in both auctions as well as a number of smaller regional companies.

The federal government has reserved 60 per cent of the available spectrum in the AWS-3 auction for smaller carriers, while the remaining 40 per cent will be available to all applicants.

In the 2,500 MHz spectrum, Ottawa has placed caps on how much spectrum companies can own, a move that it has said will largely shut out Rogers and Bell because they already own large chunks of it.

Ottawa has been attempting to boost competition in the wireless market, but the new companies have struggled and the big three continue to represent 90 per cent of the market.

"For new wireless companies to be able to compete and provide choice to Canadians, spectrum is essential," Industry Minister James Moore said in statement.

"Less than one year ago, nearly 90 per cent of spectrum was held by Canada's largest wireless companies. Due to these auctions, by May 2015 we expect new wireless companies to hold over 25 per cent of the total wireless spectrum available."

MTS, SaskTel, Eastlink, Videotron and Tbaytel have applied to participate in the AWS-3 auction.

MTS, Eastlink, Videotron and Tbaytel as well as Internet service providers CCI, SSi and Xplornet have also applied for the 2,500 MHz auction.

The final list of qualified bidders for the two auctions is expected Feb. 13.