Rogers Communications is keeping up its steady LTE rollout pace up north, lighting up Calgary, Alberta and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Monday and bringing its total 4G coverage to 12 million people. Given Canada’s much smaller population (35 million), Rogers and its competitors are right on track to match the U.S. in blanketing its metropolitan areas with mobile broadband by next year, though covering its vast geographic territory is another story altogether.
Rogers now has LTE networks in Canada’s largest markets: Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario: Montreal, Quebec; Vancouver, B.C. and St. John’s, Newfoundland; as well as in the two cities launched Monday. Rogers said it also plans to expand into Edmonton, Alberta in the next few months.
Canada is right on the tail of the U.S. wireless industry in LTE with three of the major operators in the process of building out nationwide metropolitan coverage. Telus went live in February with a 14-city footprint. Bell Mobility launched shortly after Rogers in 2011, but has since expanded its footprint to 13 markets, though its footprint in those cities appears to be more limited with only 6 million people covered. Telus and Bell traditionally have focused on different ends of Canada, but in a bid to roll out their LTE networks faster and more cheaply they’re sharing their infrastructure.
Canada is also one of the few countries that’s using the same spectrum as the U.S. operators, making cross-border roaming easier. Telus, Bell and Rogers are using their Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum for LTE but plan to move to into the 700 MHz bands once Canadian regulators begin auctioning it off next year. Operators can use those airwaves to move into more far-flung regions of Canada, as 700 MHz covers a lot more distance than higher-frequency AWS.
Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon Wireless have gone the opposite route, starting in 700 MHz in order to build big coverage networks. They will use AWS airwaves to supplement their LTE capacity, particularly in urban areas where they will need to build denser networks. Consequently, device makers like Apple have started designing smartphones and tablets that work over both frequencies, capturing both the U.S. and Canadian markets in the process.
Image courtesy Flickr user radialmonster.