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Rogers, Bell, and Telus Secure 3800MHz 5G Spectrum

Rogers, Bell, and Telus, otherwise known as the Big Three wireless carriers in Canada, have each announced the acquisition of 3,800MHz 5G spectrum. The 3800 and 3500 MHz are complementary mid-band spectrum frequencies that provide speed and capacity. The 600 MHz spectrum is low-band 5G spectrum that carries wireless data across long distances and through dense urban buildings.

Rogers has spent $475 million to secure nationwide 5G spectrum in the third 5G spectrum auction. The carrier purchased 40.5MHz of 3800 MHz spectrum at $0.32 cents per MHz/Pop across 172 regions available under the spectrum auction. This includes urban areas as well as rural and Indigenous communities across the country.

“As Canada’s only national network operator, we went into the auction with a clear plan to secure even more nationwide 5G spectrum so we could continue to bring Canadians across the entire nation the best 5G network in the country,” says Tony Staffieri, President and CEO, Rogers. “5G spectrum is about investing in Canada’s future, and we’ve invested significant dollars in each auction to build an unmatched 5G network with a powerful combination of coverage, quality, and reliability. There is a reason more Canadians continue to choose Rogers than any other carrier.” 

Bell, meanwhile, secured 1.77 billion MHz/Pop spectrum for $518 million, at a purchase price of $0.29 cents per MHz-Pop. This includes 939 spectrum licenses, providing Bell with 100 MHz of 3500 MHz and 3800 MHz cross-band spectrum across approximately 99 per cent of Canada’s population. The total cost was $2.78 billion ($0.79per MHz-Pop), which Bell claims to be the lowest among national wireless carriers.

“Bell 5G+ is important for Canada’s digital future as businesses, entrepreneurs, and organizations can leverage our network to develop innovations that enhance the lives of Canadians, such as in artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, cloud gaming, massive IoT and industrial transformation,” says Mirko Bibic, President and CEO, BCE and Bell Canada. “As part of our transformation from a traditional telco to a tech-services and digital media leader, Bell will continue to deliver cutting-edge technology that provides better experiences for customers and powers more innovation in Canada.”

Telus purchased 72MHz of premium-band spectrum for $620 million. This means Telus now holds licences to an average of 72 MHz of 3800 MHz spectrum nationally, acquired at an average price of $0.24 per MHz-Pop. Combined with the 3500 MHz spectrum obtained in 2021, TELUS has secured approximately 100 MHz of prime 5G mid-band spectrum nationally, with contiguity in 96% of the country including all major markets, at an average price of $0.82 per MHz-Pop.

“The vital, contiguous spectrum that Telus secured will enable us to bring transformational, next-generation, 5G services to even more Canadians, providing the globally leading network speed, coverage and reliability that our fellow citizens need to thrive in our digital world,” comments Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of Telus. “Critically, this spectrum will ensure Canadians continue to benefit from the best network experience in the world, which is facilitating critical, generational change in respect of health, education, teleworking, the environment, and the economy. Perhaps most importantly, this spectrum will also help us to bridge digital divides so that every member of our society has the opportunity to realize their full potential. The results of the 3800 MHz auction represent a positive outcome for Canadians and, going forward, we encourage the government to continue this balanced approach to spectrum auctions to ensure affordable, fair and expeditious access to this valuable national asset.”

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) shifted from the previous auction framework using set-aside spectrum in favour of a spectrum cap.