Mark November 19, 2013 on your calendar. Why? On this date, the federal government (Industry Canada/CRTC) plan to accept bids as they auction off the 700 MHz wireless spectrum. The 700 MHz spectrum will allow networks to transfer larger amounts of data faster, that in turn, promises to alleviate network load. This "newer" spectrum designation will allow cell signals to penetrate structures or areas such as basements, elevators, subways and tunnels where previously signals were either sporadic or non-existent. [i]"Canada’s wireless industry finally has a date for a long-awaited auction of prime airwaves that the government hopes will foster increased competition and better prices for consumers". We'll be the judge of that, but in the meantime, let the games begin... The plan is to open up four blocks of “prime” licences in each jurisdiction and limit the big three (BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Corp. and TELUS Corp.) to one in each market while permitting new entrants to purchase two. It doesn't stop there. Apparently, Industry Canada (CRTC) plans to reinforce the rules for companies providing competitors access to their networks for roaming and encourage cell tower sharing. This will in effect, dispense the need to deploy additional towers, saving new entrants the cost of deploying and maintaining new towers. [i]But what's in it for the government? The last time the government auctioned off wireless spectrum (back in 2008), more than 4 billion dollars was raised, far exceeding preliminary estimates. Minimum bid levels along with conservative estimates imply that Ottawa stands to earn at least 900 million dollars, although the final dollar figure will likely be much higher. The bigger question is whether the auction will attract the competition the government is hoping for from both new entrants and regional players alike. A representative from Wind Mobile’s parent company Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd. mentioned that its Canadian subsidiary had added almost 80,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2012 and has almost 600,000 customers. The representative goes on to say that results were encouraging, but wonders whether Wind’s backers have the desire to pour another billion dollars into investing in Canada. So there you have it. Don't expect rates to plummet overnight, but it appears to be a small step in the right direction. I'd really like to see some of the smaller wireless providers get in there and give the big three a run for their money.