Backgrounder

March 2013

Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook

As Canadians increasingly embrace smartphones and tablets, the Government of Canada is showing leadership by ensuring that our wireless industry has access to the spectrum it needs to remain competitive and deliver services to Canadians. Accordingly, the Government is setting out a plan to make spectrum available in the coming years, as well as setting the date and approach to the upcoming 700 MHz auction.

Spectrum is a public asset that should be used to improve the services and technology available to Canadian consumers and to support the growth of our economy. By drafting a plan that puts Canadian consumers first, the Government will enable Canadian companies to remain competitive and to continue providing Canadians access to the latest and greatest technologies. It is important that Canadians have a road map concerning spectrum availability in the medium term.

The Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook provides an overview of the Government's approach to making spectrum available to meet the future demand for commercial mobile services.

After the upcoming 700 MHz auction on November 19, 2013, and the 2500 MHz auction the following year, Canada will be more than two thirds of the way towards its target of allocating 750 MHz of commercial mobile spectrum by the end of 2017. The Government has identified more spectrum that could be used for commercial wireless services over the next five years. We will work with all Canadians to use spectrum to increase coverage, promote competition and ensure that the latest technologies are available.

The Government will hold separate and comprehensive consultations with industry stakeholders before making any specific decisions with respect to these bands. The timing of specific decisions will be decided in concert with international developments.

Beyond 2017, mobile data traffic will undoubtedly continue to grow, likely resulting in additional spectrum requirements. It is conceivable that at least 1000 MHz of mobile broadband spectrum will be required by the start of the next decade. As a result, the Government will continue to monitor developments, both in Canada and abroad, and will update this plan accordingly.

For more information, please see the Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook.