Rogers came out with its announcement first, saying 3.5GHz is coming to Nanaimo today and to “Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver” not too far in the future.
Bell then followed by announcing its own network as “5G+,” and the company says it will have “peak theoretical download speeds of up to 3 gigabits per second.” Bell is launching first in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and it’s aiming to cover 40% of the Canadian population by the end of 2022.
Users of Telus will also get access to the Bell radio network where it’s available.
The network will work with phones that support band n78. Bell says that includes the iPhone 12, 13, and the new SE; the Galaxy S21 and S22; and the Google Pixel 6. Phones may need firmware updates, but they’ll come pretty quickly.
We also reached out to Telus and Videotron, which also own 3.5GHz spectrum, but they didn’t respond in time for this story.
Just a Little Different
Like many things in the two countries, mid-band in Canada is similar to what you’ve seen so far in the US, but just a bit different. It ranges from 3450-3650MHz, which in the US would be the 3.45GHz band largely leased by AT&T and Dish, as well as part (but not all) of the adjacent CBRS band.
In Toronto, Bell’s first market, Bell and Telus share 80MHz of new mid-band spectrum. That’s more than Verizon is using of C-band, but not quite as much as T-Mobile uses for its “Ultra Capacity.”
In Nanaimo, Rogers’ first market, Rogers has 70MHz of mid-band spectrum. (The map below shows the allotments in many metro areas across the country.)
While phones with Qualcomm X60 or higher modems, such as the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 13, support combining the Canadian carriers’ existing 5G frequency bands with the new 3500MHz, because of carrier configuration phones may initially have to choose one band or the other. But moving to 3500MHz from existing 5G bands will already provide a performance bump, and the carriers are sure to figure out how to combine the channels further down the road.
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Our early tests of Verizon’s 60MHz C-band showed download speeds averaging 534Mbps in good conditions.
While Bell focused its announcement on consumer smartphones, Rogers’ announcement went further into radical new uses for 5G. Because the firm has a 5G standalone core, it’s interested in offering private networks for businesses, wireless home internet, and smart city applications, the company’s press release says.
“Rogers has already tested a hockey Augmented Reality Immersive in-venue fan experience leveraging Rogers 5G 3500 MHz network in partnership with AWS Outpost Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), Ericsson, Immersiv.io, MLSE and the NHL to showcase expected benefits to fans,” the release says. (Bell had a test application giving a 360-degree view of hockey games last year.)
We’re driving around Canada later this summer to test the mobile networks, and we anticipate seeing quite a bit of this exciting new system.
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