By Moira Warburton
TORONTO (Reuters) - The government of Canada will open the 6GHz band of radio frequency spectrum, tripling the current amount available for Wi-Fi and leading to faster speeds and greater coverage, the country's minister for science and innovation announced on Wednesday.
"High-quality and affordable wireless services have never been more important in the everyday lives of Canadians," Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said. "This decision will make staying connected easier for Canadians who rely on their Wi-Fi for accessing school, work and health care from home."
The increased spectrum will also allow for affordable broadband in rural Canada, the statement said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has committed to improving internet access for rural Canada and bringing costs down for Canadians.
The decision harmonizes Canada's spectrum with that of other countries, including the United States, said Mark Goldberg, a longtime industry consultant.
"It absolutely will help speed up in home internet, no question, and provide all sorts of new capabilities and services," Goldberg said.
The decision comes ahead of Canada's long-awaited 3500Mhz spectrum auction in June, which will support the country's telecoms companies in expanding their 5G capabilities.
Some 24 companies are eligible to bid, including Bell Inc, Telus Corp, Rogers Communications Inc and Cogeco Communications Inc. Shaw Communications Inc, which is in talks to be acquired by Rogers, did not apply and is not eligible to bid.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Matthew Lewis)