Bell Mobility and Telus, which are partnering to build a nationwide 3.5G high speed packet access (HSPA) mobile network, will begin offering HSPA-based services next month, earlier than previous forecasts of early 2010, according to a statement from Bell. The new network is being rolled out under an infrastructure sharing agreement augmenting the cellcos’ existing arrangement for CDMA2000-based services. It will cover 20,000 towns and cities across Canada, or around 93% of the population, and will offer the first like-for-like competition to Rogers Communications, the country’s sole facilities-based GSM/W-CDMA/HSPA operator. ‘Bell is maximising our HSPA network advantage by building out the vast majority of our next generation network with high speed fibre – enough fibre to wrap halfway around the globe in fact – and an all-IP architecture for enhanced reliability,’ said Stephen Howe, Bell Mobility’s Chief Technology Officer, adding that ‘HSPA also clears the path to super high speed 4G LTE wireless [technology] in the future.’ Bell and Telus will also take on Rogers in another segment when they begin selling Apple’s iPhone handset next month in time for the HSPA network launch, according to the Globe & Mail, which cited people familiar with the companies’ plans, although neither operator confirmed the story. Bell and Telus’ previous launch predictions envisaged the launch of HSPA services ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February, but the latest announcement brings the date forward by at least a month.