Bell’s 5G network 'ready' but launch on hold due to COVID-19

13 May 2020

Bell Canada has put on hold its commercial 5G network launch due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its CEO Mirko Bibic told investors. Quoted by RCRWireless News, Bibic clarified: ‘We are ready with our initial 5G network, but frankly we don’t think that it’s the right time right now to officially launch it for marketing purposes. I just don’t think that customers are paying attention to this right now and that’s not what is top of mind for our customer base. They have other priorities, understandably … As the economy opens up, we’ll have more news on when we will launch our initial 5G services.’ The CEO also noted that Bell is waiting for the government’s decision on its 5G network security review (most importantly whether or not partnerships with Chinese vendors including Huawei will be restricted), highlighting that ‘we will follow all government rules with respect to usage of equipment in our 5G network and as you know, we work with multiple suppliers in our supply chain.’

Bell began construction of its 5G network in partnership with Nokia in February this year, when it announced it would be ‘ready to deliver initial 5G service in urban centres across Canada as next-generation smartphones come to market in 2020,’ whilst adding that it planned to expand 5G services via Canada’s 3.5GHz spectrum auction set for Q4 2020. Rival Rogers Communications partnered Ericsson to launch commercial 5G network access for smartphone users in four main cities in March.

Canada, Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE)