Rogers bids $783 mil for wireless licenses

Canadian government to auction 40% of airwaves

TORONTO -- Canada's wireless spectrum auction heated up Friday as cable and phone giant Rogers Communications bid CAN$801.5 million ($783 million) for 47 licenses.

In all, about CAN$3.6 billion ($3.52 billion) has been bid thus far as Ottawa looks to open up Canada's cell phone market.

According to government agency Industry Canada, rival phone giant Telus Corp. has bid CAN$736.3 million ($719 million) for 50 licenses, Globalive bid CAN$736.3 million ($719 million) for 34 licenses and Bell Mobility bid CAN$508.2 million ($496.5 million) for 45 licenses.

The Canadian government will auction off about 40% of available radio airwaves for wireless phone calls and e-mail so that new entrants can compete against incumbents Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp.

The remaining 60% of spectrum will be available to all bidders, including the three incumbents.

Winning bidders are expected to launch new cell phone services in early 2009.