Canada’s two largest CDMA carriers, Bell Canada and Telus Mobility, announced plans to deploy HSPA technology by 2010 as part of an effort to eventually upgrade to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei will build the HSPA networks for both carriers.
Investment banking firm UBS reported in July that Bell Canada and Telus were considering deploying HSPA networks. The carriers’ official announcement represents another nail in the CDMA coffin, as well as further industry momentum toward LTE technology. Both Verizon Wireless (a CDMA carrier) and AT&T Mobility (a GSM carrier) in the United States plan to use LTE.
“Bell’s transition to the global 4G LTE standard with a combined EV-DO and HSPA network path aligns us with more than 30 major carriers worldwide planning a similar move to LTE,” said Stephen Howe, CTO for Bell. “This broad global technology ecosystem will mean a fast, efficient and cost-effective network transition to 4G LTE, and access to the broadest possible range of next-generation phones and data services.”
The announcement builds on the CDMA network-sharing and roaming agreement Bell Canada and Telus Mobility have had in place since 2001. Both carriers plan to overlay their CDMA networks with HSPA technology, and will support both technologies while aiming for an eventual LTE deployment. Further, Telus said it will also continue to support its iDEN network. (“Telus plans to support its CDMA and Mike (iDEN) customers for the foreseeable future, providing Telus customers the full choice of wireless solutions that best suits their needs,” the carrier boasted.)
Telus said the HSPA deployment would ensure “a smoother transition to long term evolution (LTE) technology.” Such comments are notable in light of Verizon Wireless’ plans to bypass HSPA and move directly to LTE. Telus Mobility added that it planned to use its existing 850 MHz and 1.9 GHz spectrum holdings for its HSPA deployment.
Telus Mobility and Bell Canada both recently spent substantial sums of money during Canada’s AWS-1 spectrum auction. Telus Mobility picked up 59 spectrum licenses in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band for $880 million, while Bell Canada was the high bidder for 54 licenses totaling $740 million.
Although Bell didn’t provide financial information in its announcement, Telus said its 2008 capital expenditures would remain unchanged at $1.9 billion. But for 2009, Telus said “total wireless capital requirements including those related to the HSPA buildout will be temporarily higher than historic levels at approximately $750 million.”
Canada’s other major wireless provider, Rogers Wireless, has already started building a W-CDMA/HSPA network.