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Bell getting ready to launch 2,600 Mhz LTE spectrum, speeds will “double what’s currently available” (Video)


Bell launched their LTE (Long Term Evolution) network on September 14th, 2011 in the core of Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph. Since this date they’ve expanded their initial coverage areas, plus extended LTE speeds to Cambridge, Brampton, Oakville, Richmond Hill, Pickering, Halifax, Belleville, Yellowknife, Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, London, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to check out Bell’s “Wireless Technology Inovation Centre,” where they do all the network and device testing. It’s a remarkable process to see what’s involved in taking a network from concept to completion, and also how long it actually takes for handsets to get approved — it can take upwards of six months. I was limited to what I was able to capture, but did see their all three of Bell’s networks being tested: CDMA is still active and has about 2 million customers, HSPA+ makes up the bulk of their 8+ million wireless customers, and LTE — which just launched —  is a major priority for Canada’s second largest carrier.

When Bell kicked LTE speeds open to Canadians, which operates on the 1700/2100 MHz AWS band, it was noted that “Initially the 4G LTE network will provide access to peak speeds up to 75 Mbps (expected average speeds of 12-25 Mbps). As the 4G LTE network and devices evolve, we’ll reach even greater speeds, approaching 150 Mbps.”

During our review testing of Bell’s various LTE devices (Samsung Galaxy Note, Optimus LTE, HTC Raider, Tab 8.9) we repeatedly achieved download speeds between 20-45Mpbs and upload speeds of 6-15Mbps. Still incredible speeds to experience on your smartphone or tablet, but Bell is getting ready to open up their 2,600 MHz spectrum.

First, the 2,600 Mhz will make it possible for Bell’s LTE network to potentially reach those “peak download speeds” of 150 Mbps. As you’ll see in the video I was allowed to film Bell testing the upcoming LTE Sierra Wireless 330U Turbo Stick (see our video review here), which is a follow up to the 313U that they initially launched with. Due to the limited baseband inside, the Aircard 330U is only capable of reaching download speeds of 100 Mbps, so those max 150 Mbps speeds were not reached. The video shows the 330U did consistently reach download speeds between 98-101 Mbps, upload speeds of 41-43 Mbps, which is the theoretical maximum for this particular model. Granted we were the only one on the network at time but Bell says that the typical download speeds will “double what’s currently available” (so you can expect between 30-50 Mbps). Bell would not say when the 2,600 Mhz spectrum will launch, only that “it’s sooner than later.”

The advantage of 2,600 Mhz spectrum over existing AWS bands is that it is able to deliver higher speeds over the same distance, allowing for that 150Mbps theoretical maximum we referred to. But at higher frequencies, radio waves are more prone to distortion and bit rate loss, making the 2,600 Mhz spectrum a poor choice for mobile phones. For LTE sticks, however, they do a great job at delivering incredibly fast speeds to slow-moving or stationary objects. Check out the video below.

  • Carlos

    And they also want the 700mhz spectrum? Damn

    • Shamu

      oh isn’t this great… Bell and Rogers already have better phones than us (Telus) and now they will have a better and more robust network… I see TELUS has responded to this announcement by releasing the HTC One V!! I bet Rogers and Bell are shaking in their boots now!!! Telus, that’s sarcasm..just letting you know

  • anonymous

    This is purely a gimmick.

  • Duw

    2600 (band 7) is also used worldwide.

  • JustAnotherDan

    So… what do they need 700MHz for??

    • Brad F

      700 MHz would allow for better range, better penetration. Better for rural areas that would otherwise only have access to dial-up internet.

  • Pi

    I wish I could get these kinds of speeds from my home internet connection!

  • bob

    It’s not that 2600 MHz wouldn’t be good for phones. In fact it is used in South Korea and Europe.
    The problem is that Bell doesn’t have the clout to get manufacturers to make them 700/1700/2600 MHz LTE + 850/1900 MHz UMTS phones.
    So they will have to settle for 700/1700 LTE + 850/1900 UMTS, which is exactly what AT&T is using in the US so there is a huge demand for it.

    • A

      its funny, Rogers already has the 330u with 2.6 already, in an interesting twist, it doesn’t have the 700 band in it so I guess LTE roaming won’t happen at all in the US in the near term.

  • Alex

    700MHz would be used in lower density situations.

    It has less capacity that higher frequencies, but propagates further from a single tower. For any carrier, 700MHz allows for a cheaper deployment in mid to low density, with the other frequencies to supplement capacity.

    • kris

      are you sure? its kinda the oppisite. 700mhz has high penatration the big 3 want it because it can be deployed in the big cities and serve many ppl with less dead spots in tight urban areas since it can go through like 10 feet of concrete(they probably also want to fry our brains in the process)

  • bob

    2600 is used for LTE in other countries. On phones too. There is nothing wrong with it.

    The problem is that Bell gets AT&T phones. And AT&T is 700/1700 LTE and 850/1900 UMTS.

    So Bell won’t be able to get 700/1700/2600 MHz LTE phones.

  • standard_gary

    Does anyone know if this is faster than wifi? I am trying to debate between getting a wifi only or LTE iPad.

    • s2556

      yes wayyy faster. home wifi gets between 7 and 25 mbps i think but you have to pay for the speed increases with most providers

    • bob

      depends on your home connection

    • Chris

      yeah its faster than the average WiFi speed at someones house. Though a home connection tends to maintain a steady speed, LTE wont, on top of this ur wifi wont have a limit of a few GB. With LTE if you use that speed to its potential, u have a huge bill.

      ur better off getting wifi tablet and tethering it to ur phone for when its needed, this also means one bill.

    • stylinred

      the LTE versions come with wifi… afaik

      and yes LTE is faster but you’re going to have to pay an arm and a leg X2 for it (so price wife wifi is still better)

      the ipad does have wifi 5G support though so if you have a good router and fast internet connection (like shaws 50mb+ packages) you’ll get great speeds anyways

  • Nick

    Who cares? I’m going to be skeptical of LTE until they start increasing data caps too.

    I’d rather be able to browse twice as much content than consume the same amount of content slightly faster.

  • WetCardboard

    700MHz has much better penetration because of the longer wavelength…so actually it’s just as useful in urban areas because they want to get the signal into parkades, large buildings, underground, etc.

  • Lukeiphone

    Wowww go bell go!!

    • Eluder

      Yah, way to catch up to what Rogers has already!
      Lol.

  • CBV

    The average consumer does not need this. Its just a gimick to make people think they need it. Its like pre ordering a game with useless benefits. When u can get the same game in 2 weeks for a same/lesser price. Its just for bragging rights.

  • Big 3

    i hope firms worldwide are able to move past 2G gsm and set a common quad or penta band for higher generations so there can be world phones without depending on 2G. otherwise. cell phone’s reception hardware will just get bigger and bigger since new phones need 2G/3G/4G to be a world phone. its already too late to set common bands for LTE since spectrums have been auctioned off but i hope 5G can be the one to replace 2G so new phones will only need 4G/5G or 5G/6G to be a world phone. now, becuz of no common bands, a world phone using LTE will need 700/1700/1800/2100/2600(plus more in future) currently which there is no such phone with all these bands.

  • Jason

    Doesn’t Rogers already use 2600? On their launch date they showed speeds of ~ 99Mb/s and this was not in a test lab!

  • Accophox

    So wait, when did Bell pick up 2600Mhz spectrum?

    And @Jason (hopefully above) – Rogers also uses AWS for LTE.

    • shoo

      I may be wrong, but I believe that 2.6Ghz is unlicensed spectrum, similar to how your cordless kitchen phone, or wireless router operates on 2.4Ghz.

    • bob

      2600 MHz is not open at all.

      Bell and Rogers bought it a while ago. I beleive it’s the spectrum that was used for portable rural internet aka pre-wimax that they are now shutting down.

    • A

      its the Inukshuk spectrum that they got from the US company they bought, they are turning down Inukshuk to deploy this.

  • MC Lin

    [/sarcasm mode on]Wooo, another frequency… which the current devices wouldn’t support, but these new new devices will! More upgrades! More money to the vendors![/sarcasm mode off]

    Seriously, why don’t these carriers concentrate their efforts on 700? Isn’t 700 “beachfront property”? Isn’t two bands (AWS + 700) enough?

  • shoo

    usually the lower the Hertz the larger the deployment area, better reliability, and better the building penetration

    But for speed, higher hertz is better.

  • MG

    Maybe faster speeds, but still the same CRAP customer service and ridiculously high rates.

    Thanks but no thanks.

  • Pointer

    Robellus’ First Law of Telecommunication states that there exist a proportional relationship between speed and price.

    An increase in speed also equals an equivalent amount in price.

  • Pointer

    Robellus’ Second Law of Telecommunication states that there also exist an inverse relation between speed and price, a decrease in speed causes an equivalent amount to increase in price.

    So a 50% drop in speed causes a 50% increase in price. The common unit is called the Robbers

    • Jake

      There is no extra cost for LTE with Bell on their rate plans….just sayin

  • Anonymous

    Anybody who doesn’t think this is a gimmick is retarded.
    Bell;
    Hey!!! I got an idea! Let’s get some press in here and show them what WE’RE doing and how awesome it’s going to be, but we won’t actually ever use THIS specific application because it won’t actually work IRL.

    If ANYBODY makes a 2600 MHz tower, they would prob have to put it in the middle of a field, and 2600/700= roughly 3.5 so 3.5 less strong than the 700hz band. Obviously it won’t work out EXACTLY that well so don’t cry about that number.

    But your router operates close to these frequencies and your router doesn’t go through a brick wall (WELL ANYWAYS), how would anybody expect this to be useful other than if you put it on top of every building.

    JUST THEORIZING ASSHOLES

  • Otter

    Anyone else wonder why their CELL PHONE speeds are higher than their home internet speeds?

    Hmmmm….

  • Telurian

    Bell and Rogers were given the gift of the 2500/2600 MHz spectrum (along with some 3500 MHz) by their good friends at CRTC under the rouse they would provide wireless broadband services to the rural areas of Canada and both of these telephants became equal partners in Inukshuk. The original plan was to use these bands using WiMAX technology but since Rogers never believed in WiMAX (their main vendor Ericsson, never produced a WiMAX radio network component)… Both Bell and Rogers held on to the 2500/2600 band and used it to provide a proprietary wireless broadband service while they waited for 3GPP to approve the LTE technology as part of the ITU roadmap which would eliminate the WiMAx competition from IEEE.
    Bsically the Canadian telephants are now using he gifted 2500 and 2600 MHz bands to launch their LTE services and they have enough bandwidth in these bands to provide excellent speeds and services — but — the Canadian people were robbed since this spectrum is gold and they paid a tin price for it.. they want the 700 MHs to provide an underlay network (longer distance ) along with the 2500/2600 – (greater capacity)overlay to basically sew up all competition for the next 15 years in Canada.
    The 3500 stuff they had for the original WiMAX is useless in a mobile network and they have leased much of that to wide eyed new carriers, mostly in the rural areas on Canada. The recent rule change allowing the mobile platforms to be able to provide fixed services eliminates their need for the 3500 MHz spectrum and will ensure the carriers running it will be pushed out and replaced === 3500 MHz WiMAX cannot compete against 700/2500/2600 LTE — The Canadian consumer has been sold down the river by CRTC and by these two behemoth carriers who don’t give a damn about the amount Canadians have to pay and the innovation hit Canadians will suffer due to lack of competition in this vital area — they are also buying all of the content they can afford and this will also force the consumer to pay higher rates due to less choice… Sad but true…
    Ian

  • Telurian

    Bell and Rogers were given the gift of the 2500/2600 MHz spectrum (along with some 3500 MHz) by their good friends at CRTC under the rouse they would provide wireless broadband services to the rural areas of Canada and both of these telephants became equal partners in Inukshuk. The original plan was to use these bands with WiMAX technology but since Rogers never believed in WiMAX (their main vendor Ericsson, never produced a WiMAX radio network component)… Both Bell and Rogers held on to the 2500/2600 band and used it to provide a proprietary wireless broadband service while they waited for 3GPP to approve the LTE technology as part of the ITU roadmap which would eliminate the WiMAx competition from IEEE.
    Bsically the Canadian telephants are now using the gifted 2500 and 2600 MHz bands to launch their LTE services and they have enough bandwidth in these bands to provide excellent speeds and services — but — the Canadian people were robbed since this spectrum is gold and they paid a tin price for it.. they want the 700 MHs to provide an underlay network (longer distance ) along with the 2500/2600 – (greater capacity)overlay to basically sew up all competition for the next 15 years in Canada.
    The 3500 stuff they had for the original WiMAX is useless in a mobile network and they have leased much of that to wide eyed new carriers, mostly in the rural areas of Canada. The recent rule change allowing the mobile platforms to be able to provide fixed services eliminates their need for the 3500 MHz spectrum and will ensure the carriers running it will be pushed out and replaced === 3500 MHz WiMAX cannot compete against 700/2500/2600 LTE — The Canadian consumer has been sold down the river by CRTC and by these two behemoth carriers who don’t give a damn about the amount Canadians have to pay or the innovation hit Canadians will suffer due to lack of competition in this vital area — they are also buying all of the content they can afford and this will also force the consumer to pay higher rates due to less choice… Sad but true…
    Ian

    • A

      not entirely true, Bell got it through the US company that held licenses in Canada. 2.6 was auctioned off if you check the spectrum auctions, its just it was auctioned off as a fixed wireless spectrum and not a mobility spectrum.

  • A

    remember folks, that the speeds advertised are shared among all users on the sector so for Bell this would be more efficient than using HSPA for data.

  • Cody

    It doesn’t mean anything if I have can’t get the speeds in like 80% of Canada…

  • Goopers

    Why did Bhell get almost free spectrum?

    Windicity should be gratified to encourage competition. But with the only rule that they cover all cities and their 120km radius and major canadian highways. KILL THE ROBELLUS!

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