Telus says it wants to use 600MHz spectrum for early 5G deployments

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With the upcoming 600MHz spectrum auction in March, Telus says it may use any spectrum it acquires to trial early deployment of 5G connectivity in rural communities.

“It might let us do something preemptive, leveraging 600 MHz propagation characteristics in non-urban areas to bring 5G maybe initially to these rural areas,” Telus CEO Darren Entwistle said during the company’s recent Q4 2018 earnings conference call.

The Vancouver-based national carrier released its earnings results for the final quarter of its fiscal 2018 year on February 14th.

Entwistle added that the carrier plans to be “big movers when we get the spectrum to deploy.” Experts, however, say the network technology is more likely to be used for powering smart homes, smart cities, autonomous vehicles and maybe even fixed internet connections.

During the call, Entwistle said the company will maintain a 75 percent PureFibre footprint and “beyond that we would leverage 5G technology.”

In 2017, Telus planned to invest $4.7 billion in new communications infrastructure across British Columbia through 2020. The funds were earmarked to help with the deployment of the company’s gigabit-enabled PureFibre network to thousands of additional homes and businesses located in rural and urban communities.

Asked if this ratio could change for Telus, Entwistle said that it depends on where the telecom deploys PureFibre and how much 5G would be needed to leverage and improve the service.

“If you’re buried in Alberta, you take a different ratio between [PureFibre and 5G],” Entwistle. “Is the community going to participate in the economics of bringing PureFibre into their area? Are they willing to make a commitment to certain penetration rates that makes the economics doable on the fibre front?”

But Entwistle made it clear that Canada still doesn’t have the necessary spectrum to fully deploy 5G.

5G operates over traditional and new cell radio frequency bands that include the low- (sub-1GHz such as 700MHz), mid- (1.6GHz, around 3.5-3.8GHz), and millimetre-wave (mmWave, such as 28GHz) ranges.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains announced that auctions to enable 5G deployment will happen in 2020 and 2021.