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Network Coverage Maps; Bell vs Telus vs Fido vs Rogers

With the upcoming iPhone release from both Telus and Bell, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the network coverage provided by all the carriers in Canada.

As many know, Telus and Bell are launching HSPA+ networks, a complete departure from their existing CDMA networks. The new network technology also puts them at par with Rogers/Fido. The new Telus/Bell network offerings have been a strong point of conversation from Canadians as many worry that since the network is brand new, it may not be as reliable as, for example, the established Rogers/Fido network.

While company coverage maps are by no means meant to measure actual network coverage, since often times they are not entirely accurate, the maps are the best resource customers and observers have.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the various coverage offered by the four iPhone carriers in Canada.

Coverage

Below are the new Telus HSPA+ coverage maps for Western and Eastern Canada. While the coverage looks quite good overall, the map is not very meaningful on its own. (Click images to enlarge).

Telus Coverage WTelus Coverage E

If we compare the Telus coverage to Bell (link here), both companies offer almost identical coverage across Canada. Also, using the above Telus map as an indicator for Bell would be appropriate since the two companies are building the upcoming HSPA+ networks together.

What this means for existing or new Telus/Bell customers is, according to the maps, the same coverage customers experience today seems to be available for the new networks as well, just faster due to the HSPA+ technologies. I’d say that’s good news.

Looking at the Rogers (link here)/Fido coverage map below, initially it seems as if Rogers, Telus, and Bell are on an even playing field, but upon closer inspection, there are differences. (Click image to enlarge).

Fido Coverage

Between Rogers, Telus, and Bell, the two latter companies offer more coverage in more areas. For an obvious example, look at Newfoundland. The Rogers/Fido coverage is almost bare but Telus/Bell coverage is plentiful. While the additional areas that are covered by Telus/Bell are not overly significant from Rogers/Fido, that coverage will make a difference to customers in those areas who may have wanted an iPhone but could not get it due to poor cellular coverage.

But then returns the argument of just how reliable the new Telus and Bell networks will be against the established Rogers/Fido. While all four networks provide good coverage, with Bell and Telus providing more across Canada than Rogers/Fido, the quality of the networks will be the true test.

Once the new networks go live and become increasingly established, the true conclusions of quality will appear. But as it stands now, at least when comparing coverage maps, it would seem that Telus/Bell have the upper hand.

How’s the network coverage in your area? Are these coverage maps accurate for you? Will your city/area have network coverage for the iPhone from the wireless carriers in Canada?

Reports on iPhone news, reviews apps and accessories. Also an armed ninja with an iPhone 4S.

  • yvrgal

    I'm very happy with Bell's coverage. I used to have a Fido account with my iPhone, I live in the city and I keep getting drop calls. I gave it up and will be joining my own family plan with Bell next week. I'm very excited.

  • xKaMikAx

    As long as with HSPA+ on Telus I can actually get coverage at my high school outside of Calgary (Near Calaway Park) instead of having no bars half the time with Rogers(Even though Telus Cdma is the same) I'll be happy.

  • rorypiper

    Roger's coverage is okay, in Victoria, but areas just outside town are poor. Parts of Sooke, Metchosin, and other western communities have “No Service” at all.

    What I'm most curious to see, is the speed. The iPhone 3GS will, apparently, do over 7mbps, but I've never seen speeds above 3mbps, on my 3GS. If Telus/Bell can make the most of the hardware, and get better speeds than Rogers, then folks may have a real reason to choose them over Rogers/Fido, or even give them reason to switch carriers.

  • dcurry

    I switched from Bell to Rogers in June so I could get the iphone 3GS. Although the iphone is worth the switch it means sacrificies. My bill is higher and I have no cellular coverage with Rogers in my home area. That's right! I can't use my cellular phone at home. (thankfully i have wifi) I had great coverage with Bell despite horrendous Bell customer service.
    Rogers…get moving on adding better coverage

  • stuhFAN

    3G coverage in Ft. Mac & northern AB? That's laughable, I can rarely get Edge coverage let alone 3G.

  • Pete

    Very pleased to see the new TELUS HSPA+ coverage map! I am in Toronto, so pretty much all carriers have decent coverage here, but I fly 2-3 times a year to Newfoundland. My Mom lives less than 10 minutes from downtown St. John's, and with Rogers, my phone used to be nothing more than a paper weight. I always get 5 bars since switching to TELUS and it looks like the new network will continue this. It's nice to see some carriers recognize there are actually Canadians living east of Montreal.

  • Pete

    Very pleased to see the new TELUS HSPA+ coverage map! I am in Toronto, so pretty much all carriers have decent coverage here, but I fly 2-3 times a year to Newfoundland. My Mom lives less than 10 minutes from downtown St. John's, and with Rogers, my phone used to be nothing more than a paper weight. I always get 5 bars since switching to TELUS and it looks like the new network will continue this. It's nice to see some carriers recognize there are actually Canadians living east of Montreal.

  • Dusty

    I always liked Telus service and had awesome coverage everywhere! When I switched to Rogers, it just went down hill *Thumbs down to Rogers*

  • Robb

    It doesn't seem that the article author actually looked very closely at the maps. The Telus/Bell map shows HSPA+ coverage almost everywhere (the bright green). A quick inspection didn't show any significant areas with just HSPA (and how fast is plain HSPA anyway?).

    Compare to the Rogers map. Only the major metro areas have 3G while the rest of the coverage is “network.” “Network” means EDGE, if you're lucky, but much more likely GPRS.

    From those maps it looks like the Bell/Telus data coverage is going to be WAY better than Rogers.

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  • wdejong

    Well, since I won't see the iPhone on Telus in Saskatchewan anyway, I'll stick with Fido. I get coverage in the cities, that's really all I need.

  • Robb

    From the map it looks like Telus has Regina and Saskatoon covered with HSPA+. Rogers' map says they don't offer 3G anywhere in Saskatchewan. Rogers does offer basic service on the highways outside Regina and Saskatoon though, which it looks like Telus is missing, HSPA wise.

    A tip from a fellow Fido customer: your phone will report you're on a Fido network even if you're actually using what they consider the Rogers network (meaning you have to pay extra). Since the phone is lying to you, Fido will give you a “special” plan if you complain, that offers better pricing and free use of the Rogers network. I had to run the complaint through the telecom commissioner though.

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  • Jay

    Rogers does have 3g in Saskatoon and Regina though

  • MGDC27

    Please elaborate on why is fido charging us extra for using rogers network? How do we know exactly that we are using rogers network & not fido? can we see it on the settings? if not where?

  • Robb

    Fido used to be an independent provider that only serviced the really big metro areas. Then Rogers bought them and merged their networks. They kept Fido around as kind of a “discount brand” (A Fido customer irritation agent actually told me that), much like Telus has started up Koodoo.

    So Rogers basically kept Fido coverage to major metro areas, even though the two networks are now indistinguishable. If you look at Fido's network coverage maps, they have coverage in major cities and “extended network” in between. The extended network is really just the rest of Rogers' network. The problem is, since there is no actual difference between the two, nobody but Rogers/Fido billing can tell the difference, not even your phone.

    If you go to the US the little network indicator on your phone says “T-MOBILE” or something instead of “ROGERS” or “FIDO”, right? Not so if you wander off Fido's network and onto Rogers. The phone still happily reports you're using “FIDO.”

    In my case I made a forty some minute phone call. Since I wasn't on the Fido network (even though I had no way of knowing that), Fido decided to charge me roaming fees and long distance (your long distance plan doesn't apply when you're roaming), adding up to 60 cents a minute.

    When I called to complain I was told that the only way you can tell if you're on the Rogers or Fido networks is to call a number. So if you want to make sure, you have to call that number before making or receiving any call. I told the customer irritation rep that was ridiculous.

    After a complaint to the telecommunications commissioner Fido decided to see things my way.

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  • http://twitter.com/ctmagnus Chris Magnusson

    I still only have Rogers and 302880 listed on my network selection screen. Is this because Telus hasn't actually implemented their 3G here yet (I wouldn't be surprised) or because I need to unlock to access their network? fwiw, everything I want to do with my iPhone and then some can be achieved without jailbreaking/unlocking it.

  • Robb

    I've also got Rogers and 302880. Maybe 302880 is the new Telus/Bell network. You'd definitely have to jailbreak and unlock to use it though, and Telus would charge you an arm and a leg anyway.

    I was looking at jailbreak apps the other day. There are plenty of must-have lists but the only two that really tempt me are the app that allows other apps to use 3G when they normally require wifi (Skype out over 3G, download things > 10 MB, etc.) and the one that lets you change bluetooth, wifi and 3G settings from the home screen with a swipe. Other than that I don't see anything really compelling.

  • Matt

    I live in St.John's NL…have iPhone with Rogers but the coverage is terrible. Rogers has nothing to say about their plans or lack of plans to upgrade their network here…so do I go with Bell and pay the contract cancel fees or wait with misplaced hope for Rogers to smarten up.

  • Tino

    Telus & bell Do Not have GSM/GPRS/EDGE so theres no backup network. Goodl Luck when theres congestion in the network.

  • Jezebel

    This no backup network issue may be a big problem… particularly if the new network coverage (areas covered by each tower) is not very good… it would be a drag to move outside of a tower's coverage and have NO backup coverage at all. I'm assuming Rogers/Fido does not have this issue? Has anyone with Telus or Bell experienced a problem with service in Southern Ontario due to this problem? I currently have an old LG phone on Telus pay and talk and cannot get service in a pretty big area between Guelph and Burlington. I am in the market for an iphone, and not only do I want to get the best plan for my needs but I want to make sure I get good coverage in this area because this is my commuting zone. I've asked Telus if their new network will have better coverage but of course they have no idea. I'd like to hear others' experiences with this. I can't borrow iphones from the major carriers to check out coverage so I have to make the best educated guess I can and hope it is the right one. Expensive mistake if it isn't!

  • iphoneuser

    Although service may be good with rogers/fido and telus/bell, he difference i noticed as my iphoneplan is with fido and my husbands iphone plan is with bell. When the 3g is turned off with bell the phone doesn't allow to make calls where as fido if the 3g is turned off the phones works on edge and allows you to make calls

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/category/x1zeros-corner/ X1Zero

    One of the “reliable” features of Telus/Bell

  • Jezebel

    I ended up going with Rogers and so far I have no complaints with the service. The no service zone I used to get between Guelph and Burlington on my old Telus phone has not been an issue. I even get service in stores when I used to get none!

  • http://blazingdragon.net/ The Ghost of Ted Rogers

    you just compared bell and telus, i stopped reading to call you a retard, or a troll, now i am leaving, your point is invalid.

  • No name

    It is interesting to note that the 3GS iphone is not compatible with CDMA / EVDO etc. May cellular repeaters within the Bell and Telus network will have to be replaced overtime. However Roger's network is EDGE compatible – the 3GS cell phone can implicitly fall back to EDGE and GSM coverage.

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  • Brian Paquet

    there is a dea spot in eastern ontario, just north of kaladar and highway 7. This is prime camping/cottage area and there are a lot of people that would benefit from this area being hooked upto the network.
    Can't be that difficult…

  • Jat

    hey your right, this is a problem. I'm using my bb 9700 rogers branded phone unlocked for telus. It is always on SOS or searching for network, when trying to pick up telus signal.

  • Jat

    hey your right, this is a problem. I'm using my bb 9700 rogers branded phone unlocked for telus. It is always on SOS or searching for network, when trying to pick up telus signal.

  • Chrissy

    If you plan on traveling to Saskatchewan, especially in rural areas, I would recommend Bell or Telus. My Fido and Roger phones have never worked out there, only along the major highway and it is spotty at best.

  • Asshole

    keep in mind when you switch over to the new bell/telus (bellus) 3G SIM phones, you will not benefit from the coverage that bellus USED to offer in rural areas with the old CDMA phones. The new phones can only access 3G/2G GSM networks and not the CDMA ones, where as rogers/fido can fallback onto their old 2G/GSM networks, bellus has no old infrastructure like this, it's 3G or nothing. Perhaps the phones will be able to roam onto rogers/fido GSM, but I don't know if they have a roaming agreement (don't think so, look it up). This is why bellus works together to buildup their HSPA (3G) network. when you look at the coverage map ONLY look at the HSPA/3G portions for Bellus, any other shades of old network will not work.

  • Anticrack

    Uhm,… I've been in fort mcmurray for 2 years with rogers… and I never had a dropped call.. Signal is always full.. no problem.. You're probably just another crack head

  • Amely_22

    Ive been with Koodo, Koodo os a sister company of telus. I travel often and I will honestly say this, I only have a lg keybo and while i was in the middle of the dessert of arizona and in the mountains of arizona completely in the middle of no where no towns nothing, I was able to video message, text message and call no problem and it was all done as quickly as bein in canada in the city. I also know that my bill from all that didnt go up barely nothing so i will say the telus/koodo network were amazing to me so far. To bad that telus wont be having the new samsung galaxy s vibrant anytime soon. Its only availble on Bell and ive had horrible experiences with bell for coverage. Iphones are no good go for the new HTC Desire and Samsung galaxy S Vibrant way better!!!

  • Donlegion

    Have been using Bell 3G (iphone) for a year now. Coverage is ok only. Lots of holes. Network speed for data is terrible. Almost never get anywhere close to 3G speeds. Surprisingly even in downtown Toronto coverage and speed is really bad. I think I made a mistake signing with Bell. Clearly their network is not ready for the volume of traffic.

  • TomC

    I just had a 4-day battle with my new Bell plan and Smartphone. When I brought my new HTC Desire Z home, I had either 1 bar of reception or none at all. I tried to text and call, and my texts didn’t go through and calls were cut off. They said that my area was a well-known dead zone, and blamed it on that. I had to cancel the contract and now I’m wondering what company to try next? There is a good Virgin plan that I’m looking at, but I don’t know which network they’re with, or even if they use the HSPA+ network? Anyways, its a struggle here, any help is appreciated

  • jamie

    i have used bell, i live in kelowna BC canada. i get service everywear eve hockey rinks and my school, im not using a smart phone though so this may be diffrent. LG rumor 2

  • Camilla

    Virgin Mobile was bought out by Bell Canada… They have always leased space from the Bell network. SO If you’re having problems with Bell now, Virgin won’t do you much better. Because Telus and Bell share a network, you’d be best served looking at Rogers. Look at their contracts, find something that works for you and test the phone out. There should be a grace period in which you can return the phone with no penalty.

    Hope this helps.

  • Anonymous

    I am using bell currently in Ft Mcmurray, but I am not in the city, i am working in camp, and the Bell corverage is just horrible, I have to go outside and look for the right spot to call, text ,so on. everyone else using a different carrier has very good signal but me and other bell users. its 3G or nothing. I am really thinking about cancelling my contract and go with Tellus. I m paying for a service that I don’t really have

  • Tyler Wilson

    im on fido, and its a descent price, 25$ a month, unlimited text, 100 mins a month. i havent got an iphone, just a lg xenon. i live in vancouver bc, so i have excellent coverage in the city.  the only problemes i have had are while travelling.  british colombia is very mountanous. and only the major highways have serivce. one of the most common highways out of vancouver has spotty coverage. but a highway from kamloops to prince george is well covered although it is less traveled and only 1 lane each way it is fully covered all way. which seems like a waste of resources to me, but travelling only lasts a few hours. but i am quite pleased with the service. when emailing customer service, i have received promt and informative responses. but, when calling fido with a technical phone problem, there was no option in the in phone menu. but other then that, its pretty good.

  • Tyler Wilson

    im on fido, and its a descent price, 25$ a month, unlimited text, 100 mins a month. i havent got an iphone, just a lg xenon. i live in vancouver bc, so i have excellent coverage in the city.  the only problemes i have had are while travelling.  british colombia is very mountanous. and only the major highways have serivce. one of the most common highways out of vancouver has spotty coverage. but a highway from kamloops to prince george is well covered although it is less traveled and only 1 lane each way it is fully covered all way. which seems like a waste of resources to me, but travelling only lasts a few hours. but i am quite pleased with the service. when emailing customer service, i have received promt and informative responses. but, when calling fido with a technical phone problem, there was no option in the in phone menu. but other then that, its pretty good.

  • Lacocobear

    Telus gsm iPhone ceverage sucks so badly that I can’t even use my iPhone in my home and I lived in the Edmonton riverbed area. Funny is it works on the main floor but not 2nd floor. And they would not do anything, they even told me “Telus won’t build another signal tower just for you” well, fair enough, but I won’t sigh another contract with them after mine is finish!

  • Lacocobear

    Telus gsm iPhone ceverage sucks so badly that I can’t even use my iPhone in my home and I lived in the Edmonton riverbed area. Funny is it works on the main floor but not 2nd floor. And they would not do anything, they even told me “Telus won’t build another signal tower just for you” well, fair enough, but I won’t sigh another contract with them after mine is finish!

  • Lacocobear

    Telus gsm iPhone ceverage sucks so badly that I can’t even use my iPhone in my home and I lived in the Edmonton riverbed area. Funny is it works on the main floor but not 2nd floor. And they would not do anything, they even told me “Telus won’t build another signal tower just for you” well, fair enough, but I won’t sigh another contract with them after mine is finish!

  • Lacocobear

    Telus only works good when you have non gsm phones, so if you don’t own an iPhone, then you are fine.

  • Lacocobear

    My conclusion is: IF YOU WANT IPHONE, THEN STAY AWAY FROM TELUS/BELL. I LEARNED MY LESSONS IN A HARD WAY!

  • Lacocobear

    My conclusion is: IF YOU WANT IPHONE, THEN STAY AWAY FROM TELUS/BELL. I LEARNED MY LESSONS IN A HARD WAY!

  • Lacocobear

    My conclusion is: IF YOU WANT IPHONE, THEN STAY AWAY FROM TELUS/BELL. I LEARNED MY LESSONS IN A HARD WAY!

  • Marebritton

    I just moved into a new building near southwest tip of High Park  recently and found out that my blackberry doesn’t work 90 per cent of the time. Surrounding the bldg. signals still weak outdoors.   Apparently High Park has something to do with it.  Rogers won’t make any concessions, I still pay the bill, even though I work at home mainly.  This requires forwarding calls to landline. I noticed that about 8 years ago there was some talk of improving signals in west end.  Rogers wants me to reload system.  I have no time for this anymore, not a tecchie.  Anyone else live in this area?  Can’t reach higher management.  Robotic “managers” I reach are in denial — “that is down town toronto, our signal very good there..etc”  Feel very frustrated.

  • Diddly

    kinda funny your hammering telus/bell but i dont see them in saskatchewan or manitoba… huh? bigger area right? pfft… they are only interested in mega markets not coverage…

  • Victoria le

    I am looking at Iphone with Telus because we are with them right now. Can you tell us more details the problems? Thanks,
    Victoria

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  • reynan

    i symphatize with u buddy, its a big mistake signing with bell which the service is not worth what you pay for. everytime i met people with bell cphone services i pity them and if i could only say to them shift to other carriers then i would. good luck