By Jack Mintz, December 12, 2022
I have been travelling a lot lately. I notice my cell phone works best when I have access to 5G spectrum, which is a lot faster than LTE (4G) on my aging iPad. And sometimes, in a rural area, wireless may be really slow or not available at all. This makes me appreciate that wireless policy is not just about pricing. It’s also about quality.
Canada’s overall telecom policy is failing. We are not just losing out on low prices compared to other countries but also on 5G, which offers speeds 100 times faster than previous services. To improve Canada’s productivity, 5G will be critical for a host of innovations, including self-automated vehicles, smart cities and virtual health. Even though wireless policy is the responsibility of the federal government, the provinces should be concerned that slow 5G development could significantly affect their populations, too.
Why has 5G been slow to develop in Canada? Because we have constrained the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G development. According to a Telus study, Canada only auctioned 64 MHz of mid-band spectrum in 2021 at a cost of $3.27 in per capita MHz. By comparison, 200 MHz was auctioned in Australia at a cost of 46 cents (in C$) and over 300 MHz in other G7 countries at prices ranging between 17 cents (in the U.K.) and 97 cents (in the U.S.).