Wind Mobile has become the latest Canadian wireless operator to announce it is testing the next generation of cellular technology.
The Toronto-based company said Thursday that it has conducted a successful trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, suggesting that when the country’s bigger carriers shift to thefourth generation protocol
it will be ready.
BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. have all announced they are conducting LTE trials.
Along with Mobilicity, these carriers at the moment are running data networks using what is considered 3.5G technology called HSPA+, with potential data speeds under ideal conditions of up to 84 megabits per second. Currently, though, their networks top out at between 21 Mbps and 42 Mpbs.
LTE offers potential data speeds much higher than that. More importantly, an upcoming version of the standard called LTE Advanced will offer an all-IP flat architecture, meaning both voice and data will be based on Internet Protocol. Until now all carrier technology separates voice and data streams.
In today’s news release Wind didn’t detail how or where it tested LTE, or how close it is to implementing it. While HSPA+ offers a relatively smooth upgrade to LTE, carriers will still have to pay for hardware and software upgrades to their network equipment.
The Wind release said that LTE will enable more devices to be connected to cellular networks including cameras, cars, appliances, interactive information screens and other everyday devices. “TV and multimedia streaming will become as easy as online streaming or satellite radio streaming,” the release said, “allowing more face time with video chat, the ability to watch home security cameras, live traffic cameras or just stream content on any mobile LTE enabled device. Additionally, mobile gaming will become much more connected and real time.”
In the U.S. two carriers have already opened LTE networks, MetroPCS and Verizon Wireless
. AT&T will join them later this year. Canadian carriers, however, are sitting back partly because Ottawa hasn’t auctioned off the 700 Mhz band of spectrum most telecommunications equipment makers have initially built their LTE gear around. Operators here also hope to get a few more years use out of their new HSPA+ networks.
Industry Canada has suggested a 700 Mhz auction
won’t be held until at least 2012 while it is considering not only a digital strategy for the country but also new telecommunications foreign ownership rules.
Wind is owned by Globalive Holdings.