Industry Minister Tony Clement says the government hopes to hold another auction of wireless spectrum soon.

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Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government hopes to hold another auction for wireless spectrum soon. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

He made the comment to reporters at an event in Toronto, Bloomberg News reported Friday.

The last time the government auctioned off wireless spectrum, in 2008, Ottawa managed to raise more than $4 billion from existing carriers such as Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc.

After intense lobbying efforts, a set amount of spectrum was set aside in that auction for new entrants, which resulted in the creation of new carriers like Mobilicity, Wind and Public Mobile, all of which have launched cellular service in the last 10 months.

The heavy amounts of data now moving across wireless networks because of intense smartphone use threaten to clog the networks unless more space is added, the industry says.

Canada is on track to have 30 million cellphone users by 2014, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association says.

A new batch of spectrum will become available in Aug. 31, 2011, when the deadline for television broadcasters to move completely over to digital from analog signals comes. Ottawa has said it wants to use that spectrum, but it has not released details on exactly how.

Cellular systems typically run on a different frequency, but the 700 megahertz band used by analog TV could be used in some cases.