UPDATE 1-Canada won't alter spectrum rules, mute on possible bidders

Wed Sep 4, 2013 1:23pm EDT
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By Leila Lemghalef

SAINT-HUBERT, Quebec, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The rules for Canada's forthcoming auction of wireless spectrum will stay the same despite the decision by U.S. telecoms giant Verizon Communications Inc not to take part, Industry Minister James Moore said on Wednesday.

Canada is selling off four blocks of particularly valuable wireless spectrum next January. The Conservative government, which wants to boost competition, says the big three Canadian telecommunications firms can only bid for one of the blocks while new entrants can go for up to two.

Ottawa had hoped a major firm like Verizon would enter the Canadian market, which would likely have boosted bids while also potentially driving down prices for consumers.

Verizon said on Monday it was not interested, putting Ottawa's strategy in some doubt. But Moore suggested other foreign players may still be interested.

"Certainly the news from this week - Verizon choosing not to enter the Canadian marketplace - will cause incumbent players and possibly players from outside of Canada to look at the auction," Moore said.

Companies wishing to take part in the January 2014 auction have to register their interest by Sept. 17.

"We are not changing dates, we are not changing our policy, we are moving forward and we'll see which firms choose to present in the auction in January," Moore told reporters after making an announcement in the Quebec town of Saint-Hubert.   Continued...