Falling Behind: Comparing 5G spectrum policies in Canada and OECD countries

10 November 2021 | Research

Rupert Wood

Perspective | PDF (23 pages) | Wireless Infrastructure Strategies


The July 2021 spectrum auction in Canada concluded with mobile operators paying the highest prices per megahertz per member of the population for mid-band 5G spectrum (3.4–4.2GHz) anywhere in the world. The prices paid were even higher than those at the C-band auction in the USA earlier in 2021, which previously held the record.

This report, commissioned by TELUS, benchmarks 5G mid-band spectrum assignment in 24 high-income OECD countries. The report covers the timing of assignments (typically by auction), the total spectrum assigned, the level of caps and set-asides, the number of operators obtaining 100MHz of contiguous spectrum, the stringency of licence conditions and the prices paid for the spectrum. The data in the report comes from Analysys Mason's quarterly Spectrum Auction Tracker.

Canada comes near to last or last out of the 24 countries benchmarked in all categories. In terms of supply to the main national mobile operators it was last, in terms of timeliness of auctions it was 21st and in terms of prices paid it was the highest. The report does not analyse the consequences of these positions, but it is reasonable to say that the limited and late supply of 5G spectrum has negative downstream impacts for Canadian operators, and may also hold back the broader economic and societal benefits that modern telecoms infrastructure can bring.

Falling Behind: Comparing 5G spectrum policies in Canada and OECD countries

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