Canadian telecom companies require “considerable capital” if Canada is going to keep its “edge as a country,” Industry Minister Christian Paradis said at a communications conference Tuesday. “Canada already enjoys the benefits of substantial foreign investment in our telecommunications sector,” Paradis said at the International Institute of Communications conference in Ottawa. “It is clear that telecommunications is a capital intensive industry. Your companies invest and reinvest in technologies at a furious pace. I recognize that this industry requires considerable capital if we are going to keep our edge as a country.” Paradis' comments come as the Conservative government is considering the ground rules for next year's auction of valuable 700 MHz spectrum and whether to open the door to foreign ownership in the sector. Former industry minister Tony Clement (now president of the Treasury Board) said in March 2010 that he wanted to bring Canada's telecom sector under the Investment Canada Act—a suggestion that the government would eliminate the investment restrictions in the Telecommunications Act. The government did not follow up Clement's statement with legislation. In his speech, Paradis laid out key objectives for the Tory government in the upcoming auction. Industry Canada seeks to create a “robust and competitive” wireless market, “broad access for all Canadians” in rural and urban areas, “fast download speeds and high call quality” calling, and “globally competitive prices,” Paradis said. The minister added that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty “has his eye on the revenues this might bring.” The valuable 700 MHz auction is expected to bring in more revenues than Industry Canada's 2008 Advanced Wireless Services auction, which generated more than $4.25 billion. The Telecom Act now limits foreign investment to 20 per cent in the carrier and 33 per cent in the holding company.