Telus and Bell team up, plan to roll out 4G

Big news today in Canada’s wireless industry. Telus and Bell announced they are partnering to upgrade their wireless network to 3G nationwide, laying the groundwork for an eventual move to 4G. The move should put both companies on equal footing with Rogers, but playing catchup is expensive:

Although both companies declined to provide any clear insights to the cost of the upgrade, analysts expect it to be approximately between $750-million to $1-billion, split two ways between Bell and Telus. Mr. Entwistle said that initial capital expenditures for the new network are included in Telus’ original guidance of approximately $1.9-billion this year and is expected to be $750-million higher than historical levels in the following year.

I’m not sure how I missed it, but apparently rumors of this specific deal actually surfaced back in July. The first rumor, that Telus would switch to GSM, started back in January. The announcement today covers the launch of a network with High Speed Packet Access (HSPA/GSM). Bell and Telus hope to have the network ready just in time for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. After that the goal is to move to LTE (4G), which is in line with the plans of most other carriers around the world.

Clearly this is great news for Canadians. Having a single network standard will bring cost benefits, and faster time-to-market for hardware. I’m looking forward to it.

Here’s the Telus press release, and here’s the Bell press release. Both are incredibly similar, though neither one mentions the other! I guess we should use the term “partnership” lightly.

Telus Mobility switching to GSM?

Post Image It’s a headline I never thought I’d read – Telus considers dumping is ‘Betamax’ of wireless networks. Apparently executives are taking a look at how feasible it is to move from the current CDMA standard to the more widely used GSM. As a Telus Mobility subscriber this is exciting news! I’m not holding my breath though.

The idea "has been presented at the board level and is being actively considered," said one source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. The source cautioned that there were no guarantees Telus will go ahead with a changeover, which analysts say could cost about $500 million.

The Rogers network is the only GSM one in Canada at the moment, with both Telus and Bell operating on CDMA. There are significant advantages to being on GSM – most new phones are launched for it first (such as the RAZR and iPhone) and Telus could get a cut of the roaming fees that Rogers collects.

Seems to me that if they were going to do this, they should have done it years ago. The article points out that "4G" networks are on the way, though no one knows how many years it will be until a standard is adopted. It would suck if Telus switched to GSM, only to have to build out a 4G network soon thereafter.

Read: TheStar.com

UPDATE (10/6/2009): The new HSPA+ network built by Telus and Bell will be live in November, when both carriers will start selling the iPhone.