Telus launches LTE, eyes rapid network rollout

Canada's Telus launched LTE service in 14 metropolitan areas on Feb. 10, making it the nation's third mobile operator to do so. The operator promises to broaden its coverage to cover more than 25 million Canadian POPs, or about 75 percent of the population, by the end of 2012.

Initial launch areas include Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, Kitchener, Waterloo, Hamilton, Guelph, Belleville, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and Yellowknife. Telus and rival operator Bell Canada have an LTE network-sharing agreement and are buying their LTE infrastructure from Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks, neither of which has made headway in securing major LTE contracts in the United States.

Telus said its LTE network will offer peak download speeds of 75 Mbps, with an expected average of 12 to 25 Mbps. Customers who move beyond Telus's LTE coverage area can access service on its HSPA+ network. The LTE service initially runs only in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band.

Telus will not charge extra for LTE service. "We're listening to our customers and working hard to give them clear and simple service terms with no surprises. Consistent with this approach, our current rate plans will apply to our 4G LTE customers. We are not introducing a new rate plan or charging a premium to enjoy our new network," said Eros Spadotto, Telus executive vice-president of technology strategy and operations.

LTE-compatible devices offered by Telus include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet, the LG Optimus smartphone or the Novatel Wireless Ovation MC679 4G Mobile Internet Key. The LTE-capable Samsung Galaxy Note will also be available on Feb. 14, making Telus the first North American operator to sell the device, beating AT&T by five days.

Telus noted the LTE network complements its new Optik on the go service, which allows TELUS Optik TV customers in British Columbia and Alberta to view commercial-free TV On Demand shows and movies on their mobile devices, tablets and laptops.

Telus had been expected to move more slowly on LTE while it squeezed what it could out of its HSPA+ investment, but heady competition prompted a more aggressive stance. The operator's LTE unveiling follows by several months LTE launches from rivals Rogers Communications, which introduced LTE to Canada in July 2011, and Bell Canada, which introduced its LTE service two months later. Shaw Communications, an Internet, cable and satellite TV provider, had been expected to launch LTE as well but it is now focused on building a managed Wi-Fi network instead.

Canadian mobile market leader Rogers recently announced new LTE devices and price plans. It said in January that it plans to expand LTE service to more than 25 additional cities this year, covering half the Canadian population by year's end.

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