New Minister Succeeds Bains at Innovation Canada

January 15, 2021 – On January 12, former Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne was sworn in as Canada's new Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The Prime Minister's Office said Champagne “deeply understands the needs and priorities of Canadians living in rural communities, including the importance of improving high-speed internet.” On January 13, Champagne signed a new general coordination agreement with the U.S. on radiocommunication and earth station spectrum use.

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Bell to Spend $1 Billion on Doubling 5G

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February 4, 2021 – In a conference call with analysts on February 4, BCE Inc. said it will undertake an unprecedented investment program over the next two years to accelerate network growth. $1 billion will be spent on increasing connectivity, with plans to double 5G coverage by the end of 2021. Bell’s 5G network currently serves over 150 communities. The capital plan is the company’s largest to date and will add up to 900,000 fibre and rural wireless home internet locations, for a total broadband footprint of 6.9 million.

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5G Collaboration Key to COVID Recovery, Industry 4.0

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March 22, 2021 – According to a new report from PwC, COVID-19 changed how Canadians work and live, making internet connectivity and Industry 4.0 crucial to Canada’s future economic success. The efficiency and productivity benefits of Industry 4.0, meanwhile, will depend on using advanced 5G networks. PwC’s latest report suggests that a window of opportunity exists to leverage 5G as a catalyst for Canadian investment, but that this will require cooperation between the government, telecom, and broader industry.

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Spectrum Costs and Red Tape Could Slow 5G Rollout

April 21, 2021 – The C.D. Howe Institute has formed a working group to examine issues of quality, infrastructure, investment and access in the national wireless sector. The group concluded that excessive spectrum costs and regulation could impede Canada’s economic competitiveness and the rollout of 5G. After analyzing data for 27 countries, it found that Canadian spectrum costs are nearly four times above the global average. The report also found that the structure of federal auctions tends to generate higher prices.

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3800 MHz to Enable 5G and Rural Wireless in Canada

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May 25, 2021 – The Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) has announced that 3650-4200 MHz band spectrum will be repurposed to promote rural connectivity and 5G deployment. This will increase the amount of C-band that is available for 5G from 50 MHz to 250 MHz – consistent with similar policy decisions in the U.S. A 3800 MHz auction has also been announced for the first quarter of 2023 in Canada. Although a date of March 31, 2025 has been set for vacating previously held spectrum, satellite providers serving far north communities will be able to maintain their holdings.

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Canada in Top 5 for 5G Roll Outs: Report

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June 28, 2021 – According to new research from VIAVI Solutions, 5G deployments increased 20% this year, expanding to a total of 1,662 cities worldwide. Based on the number of cities where 5G is available, VIAVI ranked Canada fifth out of 65 countries, behind the U.S. but ahead of other G7 countries and Australia. Canada’s 3,500 MHz auction began on June 15ᵗʰ and – along with a forthcoming 3,800 MHz auction – this midband spectrum will accelerate Canada’s 5G roll out, which is still in its early stages.

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Mobile Industry Needs 2 GHz of Spectrum by 2030

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July 9, 2021 – According to GSMA, governments should license an average of 2 GHz of upper mid-band to ensure efficient 5G deployment in cities around the world. This was the conclusion of a report that analyzed the spectrum needed to deliver reliable 5G service in 36 cities between 2025 and 2030. Such deployments would be consistent with the data speed requirements of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). In addition to using 3.3-3.8 GHz spectrum, meanwhile, GSMA recommends the long-term use of 3.3-4.2 GHz, 4.8 GHz and 6 GHz frequencies, as well.

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Canada Completes First Mid-Band 5G Auction

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August 3, 2021 – Canada’s 3500 MHz auction ended on July 29, 2021. 15 carriers purchased 1,495 licenses for a total of $8.9B, nearly three times the 600 MHz auction in 2019. Rogers acquired 325 licenses and paid $3.3B. Bell purchased 271 licenses for $2.1B, while TELUS purchased 142 licenses for $1.9B. SaskTel won 68 licenses for $145M through regional set-aside procedures. Spectrum must be deployed according to Innovation Canada (ISED)'s guidelines. In urban centres, 30% of the population must be served within five years, and 70% within 20 years. Final auction results are available at ISED’s website.

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Xplornet Launching Rural 5G Standalone Network

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September 22, 2021 – Xplornet, which operates a combination of Canadian satellite and LTE fixed wireless (FWA) networks, has launched its first rural 5G standalone network. Xplornet’s FWA service will debut in New Brunswick, with plans to bring 5G to 250 additional rural communities by 2022. In 2019, Xplornet announced a five-year, $500M fibre and satellite expansion. Last December, it named Ericsson as its 5G standalone radio partner. In July, the company obtained 263 licenses in Canada’s 3500 MHz 5G auction.

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Rogers Completes Nationwide 5G Core Rollout

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October 25, 2021 – Rogers has completed a nationwide 5G standalone core network independent of LTE technology. It also announced 5G standalone device certification so customers with specific Google phones can automatically connect to its network in eligible regions. Rogers will launch standalone 5G services in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver over the coming months. Rogers began deploying its standalone network with Ericsson last December, and has invested $3.3 billion in 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G roll outs.

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Telecom GDP Impact Was $70 Billion in 2020: Report

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November 15, 2021 – Despite the economy contracting 5.4% due to COVID-19, telecom contributed over $70B to Canada's GDP in 2020, while supporting close to 600,000 jobs. A CWTA-commissioned report by Accenture found the industry invested over $11B in infrastructure in 2020 to keep Canadians connected during the pandemic. Accenture’s and CWTA’s previous study concluded that 5G will be more sustainable than past generations of wireless, including by reducing carbon emissions through enabling remote work.

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5G Expanding to Saskatchewan and Rural Manitoba

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December 15, 2021 – SaskTel has launched 5G in Saskatchewan, initially covering parts of Regina, with plans to expand throughout the city and Saskatoon in 2022. SaskTel’s network runs on equipment from Samsung and will enable technological innovations in agriculture, as well as other use cases. Xplornet has additionally signed a Rural Broadband Expansion Agreement to improve rural access in Manitoba – equipping 224 towers with 5G technology and expanding 5G to 30 First Nation and 350 rural communities.

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