telus’s 4g network pegged for 2012
Telus Corp. made firm commitments Wednesday to begin construction on a nextgeneration mobile network this year, a well-timed announcement made the same day federal officials were set to begin formulating rules on a key upcoming auction for new radio spectrum the mobile giant desperately wants.
Bob McFarlane, chief financial officer, said the Vancouver-based wireless company will begin overlaying Telus’s current mobile network with advanced Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, equipment as early as this summer in major cities.
A commercial activation is pegged for early 2012.
“What is significant today is that we’re committing to building it out . . . in the latter part of the year and launching early next year,” McFarlane said.
American giants Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. are pursuing aggressive build-outs this year using the new technology, which allows devices to send and receive images, video and other data up to 10 times faster than current smartphones, elevating LTE into the default global standard for mobile Internet.
A sluggish or incomplete rollout here would certainly hinder productivity gains promised by the new technology, hampering overall economic progress, experts say.
There is a holdup however, according to the executive.
Although Telus plans to tap all the available wireless spectrum it has on hand, the so-called AWS spectrum the company acquired during the last auction in mid-2008, it needs more if towns and communities outside major cities are to be included in the rollout.
“We’ve got the AWS . . . the issue is the propagation for AWS is not economical in terms of building out rural coverage,” he said.
“That’s why our commitment to building out rural Canada is contingent on attaining the 700 spectrum.”
Telus, and presumably fellow industry incumbents Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE’s Bell Mobility, contends that the chunk of airwaves being vacated by television broadcasters as they switch to digital transmission, are vital to its future — and what’s good for Telus is good for Canada.
Broadcasters are vacating the socalled 700-Megahertz frequency bands soon, radio spectrum ideal for carrying wireless data long distances and penetrating building walls.
All carriers wishing to deliver anything above simple voice and text-messaging services covet the bands, which are being sized up by Industry Canada for an auction slated for next year.