Canada’s largest cellular operator by subscribers, Rogers Communications, announced yesterday that it will launch commercial services over a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband network in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa this year, and expand coverage to the country’s largest 25 markets in 2012. Rogers, which enjoyed a three-year period as Canada’s exclusive national provider of W-CDMA/HSPA-based services before the launch of a shared HSPA+ network by main rivals Bell and Telus in November 2009, is now aiming to be Canada’s first LTE operator ahead of Telus, which has said it will launch 4G in early 2012. Bell is expected to make an announcement on a LTE launch window shortly. Rogers is partnering Swedish based equipment provider Ericsson to roll out LTE infrastructure, which it promises will offer mobile data speeds three to four times faster than its HSPA+ network.
Rogers will initially use paired 2100MHz/1700MHz band spectrum for the LTE network, but as part of its announcement added that it will also utilise its 2500MHz frequencies, which it currently uses for WiMAX-based wireless broadband services via its national joint venture with Bell, Inukshuk Wireless. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Inukshuk’s licensed 2500MHz frequencies for fixed/nomadic services are viable to be used for fully mobile broadband services as from 31 March 2011, under a conversion process which Industry Canada approved in July 2009. Rogers, Telus, Bell and their newer cellular rivals are also aiming to win 700MHz spectrum to augment wider LTE rollouts in an upcoming frequency auction after Canada’s completion of the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting by August this year.