Bell first in Canada to launch 700Mhz LTE service, beginning with Hamilton, Ontario

Bell will be rolling out 700Mhz LTE connectivity in Upper Hamilton this week, the first Canadian carrier to make use of the newly-available spectrum. Yesterday was the deadline for companies to pay the remaining 80% balance of their purchase (the first 20% was due shortly after the auction’s end), so Bell’s turnaround time is quite impressive.

If you recall, Bell spent $565.8 million for 31 licenses across a number of bands: they managed to snatch primo A+B Paired Blocks in Northern Quebec and Northern Ontario; C Block spectrum in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick and Southern Ontario; Upper C2 Block spectrum in most of Quebec, the Prairie provinces, Alberta and BC; and unpaired D and E Blocks in parts of the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and the Territories.

While Bell purchased the highest number of individual licenses, at 31, they got fewer prime blocks in high-population areas. The company will likely continue their tower sharing deal with TELUS in parts of the country.

The first rollout, across most of Hamilton Mountain, will use C spectrum, a paired 6×6 Mhz block that most Bell smartphones are already compatible with. Users are unlikely to see any explicit changes to LTE speeds, but where the spectrum is deployed, most will notice better signal quality in basements, elevators and in buildings with thick concrete walls. The real benefit of 700Mhz will come when carriers roll out the service to rural areas, as the signals themselves travel further without distorting.

Bell claims that 98% of existing smart devices are compatible with 700Mhz, but a small number of smartphones and LTE sticks are not:

  • Sierra Wireless data card (AC763S)
  • Netgear Hub (MBR1516)
  • Sony Xperia SP (C5306)
  • Sony Xperia Z (C6616)
  • Blackberry Z30
  • Samsung Ativ S (SGH-T899M)

Service is slated to become available today, with “more exciting LTE announcements coming soon across the country” according to the bulletin.

(Thanks tipster!)

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