Telus goes national with its 3G network

Telus Mobility Inc. has unveiled its third generation (3G) cellular network with a reach that pushes coverage to near-national levels.

Called Wireless High-Speed Network (WHSN), Telus’s version of cellular broadband is based on Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO} technology, which offers average transfer rates of 400Kbps to 700Kbps and maximum speeds of more than 2Mbps.

Currently, Telus’s network is available in five urban areas across the country: the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

The Telus announcement follows the rollout of Bell Mobility Inc.’s EV-DO network in the GTA and Montreal, as well as recent news of a pilot project by Rogers Communications Inc. and Ericsson Canada Inc., who are running 3G trials of their High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) network.

WHSN would overlay Telus’s existing 1x cellular network, said Robert Blumenthal, senior vice-president of products and services for Telus. One of the challenges ahead would be to upgrade all of the cellular towers to support the new high-speed network, he added.

“We’ve been working on the planning and implementation of WHSN for the better part of the year,” said Blumenthal.

He added that users were happy with the wide wireless coverage offered by Telus’s 1x network, but the speed was not up to scratch. “People are used to speed. The more they get the more they want,” he said.

Cellular broadband would enable the killer applications designed for pocket PCs and the bandwidth would truly mobilize the workforce, said Roberta Fox, senior partner for Fox Group Consulting in Mount Albert, Ont., “The 1x network has been a laggard, but EV-DO capability is going to drive innovation for mobility-type job functions,” she said.

While the technology behind each of the telecom rivals’ 3G networks was similar, Fox said the differentiators would lie in the levels of service provided, as well as the extent and strength of coverage.

Fox said Telus was known for creative packaging and the alternatives the company offered in service. Announcing WHSN, Telus also introduced the Kyocera Passport KPC650, an EV-DO wireless card that gives users broadband access to the Internet, and the BlackBerry 7130e — a 3G-enabled device for both data and voice — to support WHSN.

As well, Telus has made available the UTStarcom Pocket PC 6700, which supports a 3G network for high-speed data transmission.

The company also launched the Telus Connection Manager, software that enables a laptop with an EV-DO card to automatically seek the best available wireless network — WHSN, 1x network or Wi-Fi hotspots.

Telus plans to expand WHSN’s footprint from the five urban centres to include second-tier cities. Blumenthal said it would take about three years for WHSN to get the same type of coverage as its 1x cellular network.

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