Shove over Rogers, Bell and Telus. In announcing the rules to the upcoming (May 2008) advanced spectrum auction, industry minister Jim Prentice has blasted open the doors to new wireless competition in Canada. Here is a quick overview of the new rules:
- 40 of the 105 available megahertz will be set aside for new entrants
- Incumbents will be required to allow roaming on their networks at reasonable rates (this is crucial as any new entrant may start regionally and take up to a few years to establish full national coverage)
- Incumbents will be required to share towers with new entrants (significantly reducing startup costs and redundant infrastructure)
The government has given the would-be entrants (and pretty much everyone except for the existing telcos and their bankers) everything they were asking for. The game is on for startups and new entrants in the Canadian wireless space. So get to it. The crew here at StartupNorth are just this minute back at the orbiting headquarters, scrambling beneath couch cushions for the mere few hundred million in change needed to finance a spectrum bid and national roll out.
Even if launching a whole new wireless carrier is a little out of your league, this is great news for tech entrepreneurs in Canada. Despite recent improvements, Canada has long lagged the world in terms of mobile adoption, open access to networks and affordable data rates. With wireless rapidly becoming ?the new last mile? of the internet, our ability to innovate is going to depend on the emergence of a competitive wireless market. Assuming the new rules bring real competition to Canada, this announcement is the best thing tech entrepreneurs could hope for.
If you want a hint of where the wind is blowing for open and competitive wireless markets, look no further than Google?s recent announcement of the Android API and Verizon?s move to open their network to non-Verizon devices (even non-phone devices). Time to get out that whiteboard, and dust off those pitch decks.
As if this weren?t big enough news itself… The other reason that we?re bringing you this story on StartupNorth.ca is to announce that, starting Monday, the North family is getting a little bigger. WirelessNorth.ca will be launching and joins the StartupNorth family as a partner site. Tune in for more coverage of mobile startups, industry trends, device reviews, and everything awesome yet to come from the Great Wireless North.