Bids slow to trickle in Canada's spectrum auction

Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:23pm EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski and Louise Egan

TORONTO (Reuters) - A morning round of bidding in Canada's wireless spectrum auction on Friday produced no new offers, suggesting the months-long process that could result in a new national wireless phone provider may soon end.

After the bidless round passed, a single new offer trickled in around noon and a handful of others arrived throughout the afternoon before bidding concluded for the weekend.

The auction of rights to airwaves for wireless telecom services has so far raised C$4.25 billion ($4.21 billion) in more than 300 rounds of bidding, according to a federal government website. That is more than double the amount analysts had expected.

Auction managers will wait for a period without any new bids before officially declaring the end of the auction. Bidding kicked off in late May, with 292 spectrum licenses offered across the country.

Canada's wireless market has been dominated by BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote), Telus Corp (T.TO: Quote) and leader Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote).

But Industry Minister Jim Prentice has set aside a portion of the spectrum exclusively for bids from new players.

The big mobile-phone companies have spent much more than expected in the auction and analysts have said that could leave them more vulnerable if newcomers enter the market.

According to the government's website, Rogers had so far bid the most on licenses at C$997 million, followed by Telus at C$879 million, and BCE at C$738 million.   Continued...