Canada's 5G auction begins as global subscribers top 500 million
After being delayed by more than a year, Canada's 5G spectrum auction got underway on Tuesday.
Initially scheduled for June 2020, the auction will see the Canadian government sell 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.
In total, 23 bidders are due to participate, however, Shaw Communications did not apply due to its pending takeover from Rogers.
Despite the high number of bidders, the Canadian mobile industry still has some challenges to iron out.
The country's major telcos – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – control around 90% of the market and its revenue. It was hoped that recent regulatory changes would pave the way for smaller and regional operators to better compete, particularly when smaller geographic areas are auctioned and the licence requires 90% population coverage within five years.
What it comes to pricing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was re-elected last year, in part, on a pledge to reduce cell phone bills by 25%.
The auction began as the latest Ericsson Mobility Report was released, confirming that 5G remains on track to become the fastest adopted mobile generation in history with subscriptions increasing at a rate of about a million per day.
It expects 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million by the end of 2021, two years ahead of 4G LTE achieving the same milestone, driven by China and the increasing affordability of commercial 5G devices. About 3.5 billion 5G subscriptions and 60% 5G population coverage are forecast by the end of 2026, when North East Asia is expected to account for the largest share of 5G subscriptions.
Ericsson reported that almost nine out of 10 communications service providers (CSPs) that have launched 5G also have a fixed wireless access (FWA) offering (4G and/or 5G), even in markets with high fiber penetration. This is needed to accommodate increasing FWA traffic, which the report forecasts to grow by a factor of seven to reach 64 EB in 2026.
One of the more surprising outlooks concerned IoT. On this, Ericsson said NB-IoT and Cat-M connections are forecast to increase by almost 80% during 2021, reaching almost 330 million connections. In 2026, these technologies are forecast to comprise 46% of all cellular IoT connections.
Giving Asia a run for its money, the report found that the Middle East's six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will manage a combined 62 million 5G subscriptions, accounting for the second highest 5G market penetration globally, by 2026.