Telus ponders switch from CDMA to GSM

The rumour swirling at press time is that Telus, one of the troika of national wireless carriers, is considering switching to GSM technology from its current CDMA network.

At present, Rogers Wireless is the only national GSM carrier in Canada. This gives Rogers a few advantages over CDMA-based Telus and Bell Mobility. Internationally, GSM is dominant. Rogers gets roaming fees when travellers bring their phones to Canada, and their own customers carry their cells overseas. GSM versions of devices tend to come out first and cost less. And, let’s face it, SIM cards are handy.

So it’s tempting for Telus to want a slice of that advantage pie. But there are more drawbacks to switching than to sticking with CDMA.

First, there’s the cost — not just in infrastructure, but also in subsidizing devices for existing customers. Forcing them to switch without giving them free or cheap phones will not go over well. And every time a customer has to change handsets, he or she is in a position to be swayed by another carrier.

Then there’s the upcoming wireless auction, which will almost certainly see a new carrier on the scene. I’d bet that carrier goes GSM. So Telus won’t just be battling Rogers for market share.

Finally, fourth-generation technology is on the way, though no one’s got a clear timeline. That means the new network will have to be replaced by an even newer one, possibly within a few years.

Predictions for 2008

We locked IT World Canada’s editors in a room — I’m sure the writers appreciated it — and wouldn’t let them out until they’d forecast industry trends and events for 2008. The result is here. But we’d like to know what you expect to happen in 2008. Who’s buying whom? What technology will drop off the radar? Click here to reach our predictions blog and add your voice to the debate.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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