By Juan Pedro Tomás
Canadian telecommunications operator Bell announced the launch of its commercial 5G service in the country.
In a release, the carrier said that the 5G service is already available in Montréal, the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Bell also said its initial 5G service will expand to more cities across the country in the coming months.
“The COVID-19 crisis has clearly underscored the critical importance of high-quality networks to keeping consumers, businesses and governments connected and informed, and Bell remains committed to building the best as we take wireless into the next generation,” said president and CEO of Bell Canada, Mirko Bibic.
Earlier this month, Bell Canada selected Ericsson 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) technology to support its nationwide 5G mobile and fixed wireless access deployment. The carrier had started the construction of its 5G network this year, using equipment from Finnish vendor Nokia.
Rival operator Rogers Communications had already begun rolling out 5G network in select cities around Canada using equipment from Swedish vendor Ericsson.
Rogers’ initial 5G cities are Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The telco said that it will eventually expand into over 20 more markets by the end of 2020.
In a previous conference call with investors Rogers’ CEO Joe Natale said that the company expects to start deploying spectrum sharing technology later this year. The executive said that the deployment of this technology will allow Rogers to use its current 4G spectrum for the provision of 5G.
Meanwhile, mobile operator Telus will launch a 5G network in Canada later this year using equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies, Telus’ CFO Doug French previously said in an interview with the Financial Post.
Earlier this week, the government of Canada announced a six-month postponement of its 3.5 GHz spectrum auction process, to allow the telecommunications industry to maintain its focus on providing essential services to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government confirmed that the auction is now scheduled to start on June 15, 2021.
In April last year, the Canadian government raised C$3.47 billion (US$2.6 billion) in the sale of 104 licenses of 600 MHz spectrum.
In related news, Western University has partnered with Bell Canada to create an advanced 5G research center.
Under this initiative, Bell will invest C$2.7 million and deploy 5G network equipment and infrastructure throughout the Western campus. The partnership will also fund research and development initiatives, training opportunities, and technological innovations.
The partnership will study 5G applications, including virtual and augmented reality use; smart vehicle and smart city applications; autonomous vehicles; industrial Internet of Things applications; multi-access edge computing; battery and small cell research; machine learning; artificial intelligence; and other technology for use in fields such as medicine, agriculture, transportation, and communications.