Telus unveils its 1X system

Telus Mobility became the latest telecommunications carrier in Canada to offer the 1X wireless network that looks to decrease connection time to the Internet and corporate networks while spreading out the reach of mobile accessibility.

Called Velocity Wireless, the offering is a wireless packet data network that promises speeds equal to or better than wireline dial-up technology. It operates on the Code Division multiple Access 1X 2000 Radio Transmission Technology (CDMA2000 1XRTT) or 1X.

Telus claims that the 1X is capable of Internet access speeds as high as 144Kbps, but with a more typical throughout of closer to 60Kbps.

Last March, Bell Mobility also launched its 1X network and both carriers are now operating under 2.5G standards. But with all the hype and expectations still surrounding the arrival of 3G, Ilona Torok, Vancouver-based product marketing manager for Telus Mobility, said that, realistically, it would take at least another three years to have 3G in place. Third-generation (3G) technology expects to increase bandwidth up to 384Kbps over wireless air interfaces that include GSM, CDMA and TDMA.

“Forty (to) 60Kbps is what we’re giving clients as a reliable experience (right now), said Torok. “These speeds are what we’re confirming as reliable (and that’s) about the same speed as wireline dial-up access,” she said.

With the promise of more speed also come enhanced application possibilities. Torok noted that in Western Canada, clients were able to perform such tasks as corporate e-mail, inventory systems and virtual private network (VPN) access with 19.2Kbps. Under 1X, services such as interactive games, mobile business applications and, possibly in the future, streaming videos along with similar multimedia applications could be realized.

And with a voice service agreement already in place between Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility, she speculated that a similar deal could be struck under 1X for roaming ingress by the third quarter.

John Riddell was one of the first people to experience Bell’s 1X network back in January when he experimented with the Kyocera 2255 phone and used it as a laptop modem. An editor for Angus Telemangement Group in Ajax, Ont., Riddell said that the speed increase from approximately 60Kbps from 10-15Kbps became evident when browsing the Web and downloading e-mail.

He agreed that typical speeds were between 40-60Kbps, wit the occasional burst hitting 80Kbps, but said that throughput could be compressed.

And while there were no major bugs or problems that he could detect during his trial, with users being billed per gigabit as opposed to a flat monthly fee, they may not be so quick to jump on board the 1X wagon.

“For a laptop, the problem is that you’re getting dial-up speeds and you’re paying a good deal more than you would pay for a dial-up connection over wire. The question is, is it worth it to you to pay that premium?,” he said.

Speed aside, 1X is being touted as the current standard that will allow more complex and intense multimedia types of applications to be downloaded. And with the wireless revolution not quite at European or Asian heights as of yet, the introduction by the major carriers of the next generation of wireless possibilities will inevitably be decided by users themselves.

“With any new service, whether it’s wireless or not, the market is going to determine what services really catch on…, (and) we really think there is going to be a high demand for these services that are coming through these next-generation networks,” said Marc Choma, director of communications for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association in Ottawa.

The 1X network is now available in major cities across Canada including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto and Southern Ontario, Victoria and Winnipeg. Services will also be expanded into the U.S. through a roaming agreement with Telus partner Verizon in 2002.