Ottawa could block Shaw’s plans to sell unused spectrum to Rogers

Shaw has spent years trying to figure out what to do with its chunk of unused AWS spectrum. About three years back, the company decided the costs associated with building a wireless network were too great. After years of teasing us with the possibility of a new wireless network, Shaw stepped back and said it would be focusing on building a WiFi network instead.

But what about the spectrum that might have been? When Shaw acquired the spectrum, it was prohibited from transferring it to another party that didn’t meet the criteria of a new entrant for a period of five years. Last year, the company announced plans to sell the unused spectrum to Rogers once that ban expired. Shaw’s AWS spectrum covers 188 million MHz POPs with 20 MHz in B.C., Alberta, and Manitoba, and 10 MHz in parts of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Northern Ontario. The company said in January of 2013 that it had signed an agreement that would give Rogers option to acquire its spectrum licenses this year. However, it looks like Ottawa might block the deal before it can go through.

According to the Globe and Mail, Ottawa may reject the deal thanks to increased efforts by the government to improve competition in the wireless market. The newspaper cites the federal government’s ardent disapproval of spectrum transfers as well as analysts that say the deal is unlikely to garner the federal approval necessary for it to proceed. The moratorium on the sale of Shaw’s spectrum is supposed to expire September 1. Last year’s deal with Rogers also bundled in Shaw’s shares in Mountain Cable, as well as Roger’s 33.3% partnership interest in TVtropolis. Shaw hasn’t commented on the possibility that the deal may be blocked.

The government also blocked Telus’s push to purchase Mobilicity earlier this year, citing an avoidance of ‘undue concentration’ of spectrum by the incumbents.

[source]The Globe and Mail[/source]