TORONTO — After Canadian broadcasters make the switch to digital TV next year, the federal government plans to sell off the airwaves in another spectrum auction, Industry Minister Tony Clement said Friday.
Clement didn’t give a specific date for the auction but said he’s seeking advice from the telecommunications industry before holding it.
“I’ve had face-to-face meetings with every single CEO who has a telecom footprint in the country, so I am getting a lot of advice,” he said after a speech.
“You have to consult about how the auction is going to be done before you actually do the auction.”
The 700-megahertz spectrum will become available after an Aug. 31, 2011 deadline for the switch to digital TV from analog broadcast signals. Clement said other spectrum would also become available.
Radio waves from 700-megahertz spectrum can travel long distances and better penetrate buildings, making it highly attractive to mobile phone carriers.
Digital TV technology provides better sound and picture quality — the ability for high-definition images. It also uses fewer airwaves that the CRTC has said can be freed up for emergency communications and mobile phone services.
For those roughly 850,000 consumers who have rabbit ears and antennas, any who do not make the switch to a digital converter will be faced with a blank TV screen.
The government raised more than $4 billion in a spectrum auction in 2008.