Canada has its seventh cellular carrier to offer LTE service after Quebec-based Videotron announced it has begun offering the hight-speed data service to subscribers on Wednesday.
LTE devices Videotron now sells include the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5 and Note 3, the LG Nexus 5, the Sony Xperia ZL, the Moto G LTE and the HTC Desire 601. Subscribers who already have an LTE-capable device for Videotron’s HSPA network –including the Apple iPhone 5 series — can trade their existing SIM card for an LTE card to get the faster data download speeds.
The LTE launch came four years to the day Quebecor Ltd-owned Videotron began cellular service. It now has about 550,000 subscribers. Quebecor was one of four new carriers that bought AWS frequencies in the 2008 spectrum auction and the second to offer LTE (after Eastlink Wireless in the Maritimes.) Wind Mobile and financially troubled Mobilicity still only offer HSPA service, which under ideal conditions tops out at 42 Mbps.
Under ideal conditions LTE promises downloads at 150 Mbps.
“An important advance for Videotron and Quebec-based customers,” said Iain Grant, managing director of the Montreal-based SeaBoard Group telecom consultancy. “The speeds are impressive, as is the coverage.”
To add LTE capability to its existing HSPA network, Videotron’s equipment supplier Ericsson had to build an overlay on top of the infrastructure.
(Coincidentally, Ericsson announced Wednesday that it has turned SAP AG’s Mobile Secure mobile device management suite into a cloud service for the equipment maker’s 400 carrier customers around the world. If Videotron signs up it could offer MDM to business customers in competition with Bell).
Bell, Rogers and Telus are battling Videotron for customers in Quebec, but joining the LTE club may not give it equal status for long. It is believed the big three are testing the next generation of the technology, called LTE-Advanced. A number of carriers around the world have started to deploy LTE-A.
“Today, we have reached another watershed in our progress by bringing consumers this state-of-the-art mobile network,” Videotron CEO Manon Brouillette said in a statement. “The roll-out of LTE service demonstrates our commitment to satisfying consumers’ needs and holding our place in our customers’ hearts and hearths.” Most importantly, the LTE launch enables Videotron to further enhance the customer experience, another example of Videotron’s commitment to constant innovation and one that opens up immense possibilities for the future.