Broadcast spectrum auction could be in the making for Canada

In the U.S., the FCC has announced that more space on the broadcasting spectrum will be allocated for “Super Wi-Fi,” and from the looks of things, Canada might not be far behind — but our re-allocation of bandwidth will be done for smartphones.

According to The Vancouver Sun, the federal government could hold a spectrum auction sooner rather than later. Wireless providers are desperate for more bandwidth to accommodate the growing number of smartphones in the country, and the feds are eager to earn money to pay off the deficit. The 2008 spectrum auction raised $4.3 billion for the feds, which would account for just under 10 per cent of the federal deficit. This next auction would sell off the rights to broadcast in the 700 to 2500 megahertz spectrum bands.

From The Sun:

As mobile devices become more sophisticated, they are also eating up more bandwidth. According to the CWTA, a smart phone generates as much traffic as 10 basic-feature cellphones, while a wireless-enabled laptop generates as much as 1,300 basic cellphones.

Wireless carriers such as Rogers and Bell say the spiking traffic is already putting a strain on their networks, despite the billions that Canadian carriers have spent in the last decade to upgrade their networks.

Globally, wireless data traffic is expected to double every year until 2014, by which time some analysts predict that more users will connect to the Internet through their mobile phones than through desktop computers.

“We’re now seeing a dramatic increase in data usage,” said Ken Engelhart, senior vice-president for regulatory affairs at Rogers Communications. “Eventually, people will just run out of data capacity.”

My hope for the next spectrum auction? More than three companies buying up the bandwidth. Rogers, Telus and Bell need more competition, and this next (theoretical) auction is the perfect way to put some new players on a more level playing field. Nothing is official yet, but stay tuned for further developments.