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Canada postpones 5G spectrum auction citing COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: 3D-printed objects representing 5G are put on a motherboard in this picture illustration taken April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic /Illustration/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has postponed its 3500MHz spectrum auction process by six months to allow telecoms companies to focus on providing essential services during COVID-19 pandemic, the innovation ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The band is key for telecom companies rolling out fifth generation (5G) mobile networks, which will have speeds fast enough to download a movie to a smartphone in seconds, while allowing businesses to run “smart” factories using connected robots, devices and sensors.

The auction will now be held on June 15, 2021, because Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains wanted “to allow the telecommunications industry to maintain its focus on providing essential services to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

The auction was initially scheduled to be held in December. Bains said the government will begin the consultation period in August for the 3800MHz band, also key for 5G networks.

Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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