DAVE Wireless’ data network may not initially be as fast as the company first let on.
In June president Dave Dobbin said the new wireless operator, which plans to start service early next year, will “deploy” an HSPA Plus network. That was noteworthy because HSPA Plus (sometimes called HSPA enabled or HSPA+) offers download speeds of at least at 21 Mbps, which is three times as fast as the standard HSPA 7.2 Mpbs network currently run by Rogers Communications.
Other new wireless entrants have so far said their data networks will run standard HSPA, which most operators around the world today run at 7.2 Mpbs downlink. HSPA can go as high as 14.4 Mpbs for downloads before the extended technology is needed.
“We made the choice to deploy HSPA+ because it’s the latest and the fastest technology available today,” Dobbin said in June when asked what kind of network the company will have.
However, in an interview Wednesday Dobbin said that while the network will be “HSPA Plus-enabled,” initially it will only use the slower HSPA software. He couldn’t say what the maximum download speed of the data network will be when it launches.
The routers, switches and access points on the DAVE Wireless network will be ready for HSPA Plus, Dobbin said. All that’s needed is to activate the software for the higher speed.
“Turning HSPA Plus on today doesn’t make any sense,” Dobbin said. “There’s no HSPA Plus handsets. Rogers is about to start shifting its HSPA 7.2 Mpbs network offered in most major Canadian cites, to HSPA Plus this month. However, those wanting to take advantage of the higher speed will likely only be able to do it on laptops through USB modems like the Rogers Rocket Stick or high speed data PCI cards.
Dobbin made his remarks as he announced that LM Ericsson has been contracted to design and build the company’s all-IP network across the country, which includes licences won at last summer’s AWS auction covering Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. It doesn’t have spectrum for Quebec or Atlantic Canada.
Most wireless companies announce vendor contracts when network construction is well along. However, Dobbin is sticking to the publicly-announced launch date of early 2010.
DAVE Wireless stands for Data and Audio Visual Entertainment, but it won’t go to market with that name. A new moniker will likely be announced in the fall.
Unlike fellow new entrant Globalive Wireless, which has split its network equipment suppliers between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens, and DragonWave Inc. for wireless backhaul, DAVE Wireless decided to give all its business to Ericcson.
“We think that choosing one supplier is really important and to our advantage,” Dobbin explained. “It gets us economies of scale. It allows us to manage one vendor arrangement rather than multiple vendors, and it ensures interoperability between all the pieces of the network.
In addition, DAVE has hired staff to negotiate leasing antenna space on roof-tops rather than hiring a consulting firm. “We look at real estate as a strategic advantage for us,” he said. Most of the company’s spectrum covers urban areas, where buildings are abundant, so tower-sharing with incumbents isn’t as important, he added.
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