Canada's Wind says will bid in upcoming spectrum auction

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Wind Mobile said it will bid in next year's auction of highly prized 700 MHz spectrum, quashing speculation it might not do so after its main backer, Europe's Vimpelcom , hired bankers to assess a possible sale of the Canadian firm.

The auction of the airwaves, valued for their ability to penetrate buildings and travel long distances, is due to start in January. But bidders need to confirm their initial interest to the Canadian government by Tuesday.

Wind, the country's fourth largest wireless operator, said in a statement on Monday it wanted to "reaffirm its long-term commitment to Canada."

But the strength of Wind's bid will likely be limited by its relatively small size.

It has about 650,000 wireless customers. Its much older rivals - Rogers Communications Inc , BCE Inc , and Telus Corp - have between 7 million and 10 million each.

Wind only launched operations after first acquiring spectrum in a 2008 auction.

Next year's auction is expected to raise billions of dollars for the Canadian government. Wireless companies hope securing this spectrum will help them support booming demand for mobile data such as video streaming.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Edwina Gibbs)

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