Eastlink is still being coy about when the cable company will launch its cellular network in two Maritime provinces.
But at a news conference Tuesday to announce a mobile video service for its subscribers across the country, CEO Lee Bragg divulged two new facts about the cellular service promised for this year:
--The new wireless data network will use LTE technology, the fastest available;
--Eastlink has already erected some 150 cellular antenna sites in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
“We’re close to a cellular announcement,” Bragg told reporters and industry analysts. “It’s going to be soon.”
But while Eastlink’s parent company, Bragg Group, spent some $25 million on spectrum in the 2008 AWS auction, the company is in no rush.
(UPDATE: Eastlink has changed its Web site and now says it will launch wireless service "early in 2013.")
Nova Scotia and PEI are already served by the wireless services of Bell Mobility, Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications, so, Bragg noted, “there’s no first to market advantage for us, we’re not in a big panic. We really want to do this right.”
Eastlink to launch wireless in 2012
In the meantime, Eastlink cable subscribers who want to use the mobile video service --called Eastlink To Go
– to watch TV or video on demand will do it on competitors’ wireless networks, Wi-Fi hotspots. It’s also available as over Eastlink’s cable Internet service.
To deliver the service Eastlink is using Cisco Systems Inc.’s Videoscape platform, which converts IPTV content from service providers for use on more than HDTV screens. Telus and Rogers are also Videoscape customers, but Eastlink’s implementation is unique: Eastlink To Go is a so-called end-to-end solution for any device – whether it’s a personal computer attached to a cable Internet line, or a wireless devices connected to Wi-Fi or cellular. The platform optimizes the signal for the broadband connection, screen size and resolution.
By comparison, for example, Rogers only uses Videoscape for set-top boxes and a different platform for sending video to mobile devices.
To access Eastlink on Demand subscribers only need to launch an Internet browser. Much – but not all – of the regular cable channels will be available. However, the customer will have to already subscribe to pay channels to get certain movie and sports channels as well.
The ability to get certain programs on-demand also depends on negotiations with content providers and may vary by province. Eastlink cable is concentrated in the Maritimes, but it also has cable service in small communities in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.