Ottawa unveils new guidelines for wireless spectrum transfer deals

OTTAWA – The Conservative government has unveiled new guidelines for companies that want to sell their wireless spectrum licences.

Any company that wants to transfer their wireless spectrum licence will now have to ask Industry Canada to do a review within 15 days of signing an agreement that could lead to a prospective change.

The department will then give the proposed deal a thumbs up or down.

The new policy framework comes after the Harper government blocked a plan by Telus (TSX:T) to buy struggling wireless upstart Mobilicity (TSX:T) in a deal worth $380 million.

The government says it will prohibit spectrum transfers that would limit competition in the Canadian wireless market.

Industry Minister Christian Paradis says the government will use all tools at its disposal to ensure there are at least four wireless competitors in every region of Canada.

The government has long sought to increase competition in the wireless sector that has been dominated by Bell (TSX:BCE), Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and Telus.

During a 2008 sale of wireless spectrum, Ottawa set aside a portion for new entrants in an effort to create a new national carrier and strong regional providers.

While the policy attracted several new players, most of the independent carriers — operating the Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile networks — have struggled to make money.

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