Bell Canada is choosing an unused 4G frequency to release its 5G network in 5 cities. Here’s why it made that option.

By Sascha Segan

It appears like where one Canadian provider zigs, another zags. Bell the other day revealed Canada’s 2nd 5G network in 5 city locations, establishing an obstacle in between its technique which of Rogers, which we will see play out in our Fastest Mobile Networks Canada tests later on this year.

Both Bell and Rogers are utilizing mid-band spectrum for 5G, however they’re utilizing various types of mid-band. Bell’s technique, the business states, is letting it cover more of Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver than Rogers.

Bell’s Vice President of Wireless Innovation, Bruce Rodin, described that the brand-new 5G network utilizes a 10x10MHz channel of band n66, likewise referred to as AWS-3, which the business got in a 2017 auction. Band n66, at 1700MHz, has actually been utilized for 4G services in the United States because 2015, and is the basis of much of Flexibility’s existing 4G network in Canada. Bell and Telus purchased a few of that spectrum in 2017 and kept it in their pockets previously.

Rodin stated that Bell’s present 4G network is established to aggregate 4 providers, or lanes of spectrum, in bands 2, 4, 7 and 7. (Band 7 is broad, and Bell frequently has 2 apart 20MHz pieces of it.) Including 10MHz of n66 offers the result of 5-carrier aggregation.

Bell’s site declares a theoretical optimum speed of 1.5Gbps, which is based upon its 4G network having a theoretical optimum of 1.2Gbps and the extra 5G band including 300Mbps. In our real-life Fastest Mobile Networks 2019 tests, Bell’s 4G network had an optimal speed of 799Mbps with a typical speed of 227Mbps. So I’d anticipate the 5G network to include 30–50Mbps in reality.

That isn’t a big modification, and Bell might have seen comparable speeds by devoting the brand-new spectrum to 4G. Rodin stated that 5G is the future, and Bell plans to gradually move its existing 4G channels over to 5G utilizing vibrant spectrum sharing, so “why not put your 5G channel out there, execute it when it’s all set, and support it more broadly?”

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Even in the short-term, the 5G channel will use lower latency and more capability than 4G would, Rodin included, so it’s a much better bet than 4G.

Even more down the roadway, those 5G channels will have the ability to support much more gadgets per square kilometer (avoiding issues like when all your calls are obstructed throughout a Raptors parade) and have actually ensured quality-of-service for particular usages like house broadband.

Bell’s network will at first operate on 3 phones-the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, the LG V60 5G, and the Moto Edge+. Other phones support these bands, consisting of the little Galaxy S20, the Nokia 8.3 5G, and the OnePlus 8, so ideally those will come out for Bell also.

According to MobileSyrup, a 5G strategy supplement will cost $10 in theory, however will be waived till March 31, 2021.

Rogers is utilizing part of its band 7 allocation for 5G, so I asked Rodin why he isn’t doing the very same. He stated Bell currently utilizes Band 7 greatly for LTE, and changing a few of it to 5G can trigger some destruction in existing LTE channels.

Band 7 has rather less variety from each cell website than Band 66 does, which might discuss why Rogers is revealing rather less 5G protection today.

To put it simply, both Bell and Rogers had a look at the existing 4G airwaves they had and chose to turn the ones they weren’t yet greatly utilizing to 5G. That’s the method things are going to remain for a while in Canada, it appears like, since the federal government there just recently postponed an essential auction of devoted 5G spectrum till mid-2021.

Canada prevented taking the preliminary United States technique of auctioning short-range, difficult-to-use millimeter-wave airwaves, which is what Verizon is utilizing. However the United States might yet jump ahead of Canada, as the United States is auctioning 300MHz of mid-band spectrum in late 2020.

Both the United States and Canada are substantially behind other nations in regards to the most versatile, devoted mid-band 5G, since lots of other nations currently auctioned and executed those airwaves.

Here’s an enjoyable twist: in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, Bell is utilizing airwaves that aren’t even theirs. There, the spectrum is owned by its rival Telus. Bell and Telus have a complex network-sharing contract where Bell utilizes Telus’s towers mostly in the west, and Telus utilizes Bell’s, mostly in the east. This 5G spectrum was formerly revealed to be part of the contract.

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Bell has no towers of its own in Vancouver, however makes the most of Telus’s extremely thick tower design. (Source:

That indicates that despite the fact that Telus hasn’t introduced its 5G network yet, this is probably going to be Telus’s preliminary 5G play, too. Anticipate Telus’s network efficiency to at first be extremely comparable to Bell’s, with some small distinctions since of the method it configures its core networks.

Both Bell and Telus have actually been striving in the last few years to “densify” their tower networks, including lots of smaller sized cells in city locations. This makes much better usage of their airwaves, since each smaller sized cell can recycle the very same spectrum for various clients.

“We’re investing [our] cash in producing a thick constellation of websites,” Rodin stated. “You get [more] capability gain that method, and traffic is growing at 50 percent a year.”

In downtown Toronto, Bell has cell websites on almost every block. (source:

Telus has another technique up its sleeve, however. In a current auction, Telus and Rogers, however not Bell, purchased a great deal of low-band 600MHz spectrum, the type of things T-Mobile in the United States has actually utilized to make its “across the country” 5G network. I am uncertain whether that is covered by the sharing contract. If it isn’t, then Telus will have a channel of special 5G in rural and backwoods, while Bell is most likely to utilize vibrant spectrum sharing to switch its existing 4G channels when they aren’t being utilized for 4G.

“When we took a look at 600, we stated, we have 850 and 700 currently, and the costs were quite high for what you got. It’s [also] a narrow channel, a 10MHz channel,” Rodin stated.

We’ll check all the Canadian networks this fall to see how these brand-new 5G methods hold up.


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