Aliant Telecom follows 1X trend CDMA trend

Halifax-based Aliant Telecom Mobility became the latest Canadian telecom firm to throw its hat into the 2.5G wireless ring when it announced last month it will launch a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 1XRTT wireless network in early November.

Aliant is following the lead of Canadian telecoms such as Bell Mobility, Rogers AT&T Wireless and Microcell Telecommunications Inc., all of which already offer similar 1X networks.

At launch, the network will support wireless data speeds of up to 144Kbps and will deliver cruising speeds up to 86Kbps. Customers in the Greater Halifax metro area will be the first in Atlantic Canada to experience the technology; Aliant will then introduce 1X services in other major centres across Atlantic Canada throughout 2003.

1XRTT is the next evolution of Aliant’s CDMA voice and data network and part of its existing CDMA digital network, Aliant said.

When the network rolls out in November, mobile customers will have faster access to e-mail, Internet and corporate data, said Aliant Telecom President Frank Fagan in a prepared statement.

Fagan added that advanced features such as customization, improved graphics and faster Internet speeds will expand the capabilities of mobile teleworking and sales force automation.

Specifically, Aliant said the 1X network boasts a “two-fold” increase in network voice capacity, advanced packet data services and extended battery life on customer’s phones.

The network’s packet-based “always-on” capability means customers will be charged only for the amount of data transferred instead of the actual time connected to the network, the company said.

Aliant will also make available 1X-ready devices, including phones that can access data faster.

The next generation of wireless devices (2.5G) combine voice and data functionality and features such as larger screens, more processing power and more memory. Aliant said it will also launch new handsets and PDAs that take advantage of the new technology.

1XRTT networks offer a migration path between 2G and 3G capabilities but some Canadian companies are still anticipating the data transfer rates of up to 2Mbps that true 3G provides, said Lawrence Surtees, director of telecom research with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

For now it’s going to find initial uptake in the consumer market – video games, mobile phones – but the real untapped potential is the enterprise market, which requires the better speeds of 3G, Surtees said.

“For the business market it’s a first step – it’s a prelude to even better, faster true 3G services (data transfer rates of up to 2Mbps) which are still a few more years out,” Surtees said.

“The potential that’s heralded of true ubiquitous wireless data with significant connection speed will have to wait for 3G and beyond.”