ABC Communications adds wireless Internet to its offerings

A British Columbia service provider has become the second Canadian telco to use LTE equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies to provide fixed wireless broadband to rural residents.

ABC Communications said Tuesday the new wireless network uses licenced 3.5 GHz spectrum it owns to provide Internet download speeds of up to 50 Mbps, as well as voice and video services, in the B.C. interior. It also sells hosted LTE service to organizations.

Initially the service is being offered in the town of Quesnel, an hour’s south of Prince George.

“ABC’s licensed spectrum is the key to our successful LTE deployment,” Chris Allen, ABC’s president, said in a statement. “LTE is the leading wireless technology today and we are pleased to work with Huawei Canada to deliver this solution to rural, urban and enterprise customers throughout our market areas.”

In an interview he said the spectrum being used was bought in 2003 for a 5 Mbps WiMax-based fixed wireless service the company offers in many communities. However, LTE offers faster download speeds — initially up to 10 Mbps — and makes more efficient use of spectrum to cover a greater area, he said.

In Quesnel the company’s base station is located atop Dragon Mountain, with a line-of-sight to about 3,000 residences.

“We are pleased to be partnering with ABC Communications with this TD-LTE deployment”  said Huawei Canada president Sean Yang. “Over the past year, telecom operators have embraced this innovative technology to deliver wireless telecommunications equal or better to traditional wireline services.  We’re proud to be bringing world-class technology to British Columbia.”

SaskTel has been using Huawei’s LTE technology since December, 2012 to serve several rural Saskatchewan communities.

Fixed wireless is used by carriers and providers around the world to offer broadband in communities where it is too expensive to install cable, fibre optic or copper lines to residences and commercial buildings.

ABC has for years offered ADSL service over local phone lines, as well as a recent fibre optic service for organizations. The LTE  service “provides a wireless alternative to cable and ADSL for last mile broadband access,” the release says in part.

Like SaskTel, ABC Communications is using Huawei’s TD-LTE technology, a version of LTE developed in China. Most North American cellphone carriers use FDD-LTE for mobile wireless service.

The 10 Mbps LTE service in Quesnel is priced at $100 a month, which includes 100 Gb of data. The price includes an indoor or outdoor modem.

By comparison the provider’s older WiMax-based fixed wireless residential wireless service is offered in packages starting from $40 a month for download speeds up to 1 Mbps to $130 a month for up to 5 Mbps. There are also data caps. Business packages range from $70 a month for 1.5 Mbps to $190 Mbps for 5Mbps. There are varying email and data features.

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