Industry Canada revealed Tuesday the winners of 318 blocks of wireless spectrum in 61 regions across Canada.
The wireless spectrum up for sale was in the 2500 MHz band, which should help improve cellular transmission in dense urban environments. Ottawa also said it is ideal for providing broadband service in rural areas — a stated goal of the current government.
Telus spent $478 million to expand its total spectrum allocation by 37 per cent, Industry Canada said. The company picked up new spectrum airwaves in every province and territory.
The second-biggest bidder was Videotron, which spent $186 million. The company has been mulling a national wireless service, and the new spectrum blocks could theoretically help make that happen as their newly obtained blocks are in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and their home base of Quebec.
Other regional players also picked up spectrum, including Xplornet, Canada's largest provider of Internet services in rural areas, which expanded its footprint by 62 per cent across nine provinces. Other small buyers included TBay Tel, Eastlink and MTS, all of which bought more spectrum in markets where they already operate.
Wind Mobile did not purchase any new spectrum.
Rogers and Bell, meanwhile, picked up small chunks scattered across the country, spending $24 million and $29 million, respectively. Those two titans being relatively minor players may seem surprising but it was actually expected, because both companies are at or near their maximum allowable spectrum caps in most large markets.
Ottawa says all the spectrum sold in the auction comes with "use it or lose it" provisions, to help ensure it gets deployed within a certain timeframe. In previous auctions, the sector incumbents have been criticized for buying up spectrum and then sitting on it solely so that nobody else can use it, a process known as hoarding.