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Telus and Bell to Switch to GSM? Yes, Please!

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Okay so this story has repeatedly come up the past few week. With the conclusion of the wireless spectrum bidding, reports have surfaced that Telus and Bell are ready to converge and form their own GSM network. We’ve heard this before but it seems as though this rumor is picking up steam.

CBC reported that:

Bell and Telus are looking to switch to either Wideband-CDMA (WCDMA) or High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology, both of which are similar to GSM in how they transmit data, UBS said. Over the past few years, Bell and Telus have seen Rogers run away with signing up new customers, who are attracted to flashy GSM phones — including the iPhone — that are not available to CDMA carriers.

The move would cost the companies a combined $360 million to $480 million, UBS said, while equipment vendors Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks would be the likely candidates to do the work.

It’s too bad that Telus and Bell stuck with CDMA while Rogers went ahead to setup the GSM network in this country. If all three companies were in the GSM fray, Rogers wouldn’t be having so much fun gouging Canadians with their “value” pricing and their confusing press releases/term conditions. Everytime I read a press release or some lengthy “terms and conditions” with one billion asterisks, I get confused like millions of other Canadians. It takes a small army on some obscure online forum to decipher every line by line, like it’s been written in hieroglyphics.

Since I’ve signed onto a 3 year contract with my brand spankin new iPhone 3G I’ve managed to accept the term length. I know that there should be a light at the end of the tunnel. In 3 years time new GSM entrants should be setup in Canada and offer some relief to the atrocious rates Canadians pay, some of the highest mobile rates on the planet.

How do you see the Telus/Bell GSM deal working out? Are we a few steps closer to cheaper cellphone rates?

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  • John

    I think it is about time Rogers gets some competition but I don’t think the rates will change dramatically. I believe what has been said about customers being lured from Telus and Bell to Rogers with the flashy GSM phones is a very true and strong fact. Having the GSM capability gives Telus and Bell a equal ground to Rogers but I cannot see these companies wanting to kill a good thing when it comes to making money. I believe the sign up incentives of a free couple of months of airtime or data package will be thrown in but to give away money which they can make us pay for is unlikely.

  • John

    I think it is about time Rogers gets some competition but I don’t think the rates will change dramatically. I believe what has been said about customers being lured from Telus and Bell to Rogers with the flashy GSM phones is a very true and strong fact. Having the GSM capability gives Telus and Bell a equal ground to Rogers but I cannot see these companies wanting to kill a good thing when it comes to making money. I believe the sign up incentives of a free couple of months of airtime or data package will be thrown in but to give away money which they can make us pay for is unlikely.

  • Aslam Nathoo

    I think you might want to clarify your article.

    Specifically the sentence that reads “…Telus and Bell are ready to converge and form their own GSM network.”

    This might be understood by your readers to mean that there would be some sort of merger involved and one network between the two companies. From the CBC article linked and my own research, it seems that Telus and Bell are likely to each create their own GSM/WCDMA/HSPA network. That would give us 3 GSM networks (one each from the big 3) plus a few more from the new entrants like Globalive/Yak, Shaw, etc.

    I’m not surprised that they are doing this. It is an inevitable move as they will both need to implement a GSM-style technology when they move to 4G/LTE as that standard is based on the GSM lineage.

    Also I think CBC’s writer (Peter Nowak) hasn’t fully understood GSM’s relationship with WCDMA and HSPA. You can’t blame him really as it is a complex relationship. I did a lot of research on this recently and according to what I came up with, WCDMA and HSPA are two forms of GSM technology and in fact not something different than. WCDMA is responsible for the voice part and HSPA is for the data part. Most all modern “GSM” phones like the iPhone actually use WCDMA and HSPA and so there isn’t this differentiation that he seems to indicate.

    Anyways, god article Thanks for linking to it. One thing’s for sure…the next few years are going to be interesting for wireless in Canada. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out!

    Aslam

  • Aslam Nathoo

    I think you might want to clarify your article.

    Specifically the sentence that reads “…Telus and Bell are ready to converge and form their own GSM network.”

    This might be understood by your readers to mean that there would be some sort of merger involved and one network between the two companies. From the CBC article linked and my own research, it seems that Telus and Bell are likely to each create their own GSM/WCDMA/HSPA network. That would give us 3 GSM networks (one each from the big 3) plus a few more from the new entrants like Globalive/Yak, Shaw, etc.

    I’m not surprised that they are doing this. It is an inevitable move as they will both need to implement a GSM-style technology when they move to 4G/LTE as that standard is based on the GSM lineage.

    Also I think CBC’s writer (Peter Nowak) hasn’t fully understood GSM’s relationship with WCDMA and HSPA. You can’t blame him really as it is a complex relationship. I did a lot of research on this recently and according to what I came up with, WCDMA and HSPA are two forms of GSM technology and in fact not something different than. WCDMA is responsible for the voice part and HSPA is for the data part. Most all modern “GSM” phones like the iPhone actually use WCDMA and HSPA and so there isn’t this differentiation that he seems to indicate.

    Anyways, god article Thanks for linking to it. One thing’s for sure…the next few years are going to be interesting for wireless in Canada. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out!

    Aslam

  • Aslam

    I think you might want to clarify your article.

    Specifically the sentence that reads “…Telus and Bell are ready to converge and form their own GSM network.”

    This might be understood by your readers to mean that there would be some sort of merger involved and one network between the two companies. From the CBC article linked and my own research, it seems that Telus and Bell are likely to each create their own GSM/WCDMA/HSPA network. That would give us 3 GSM networks (one each from the big 3) plus a few more from the new entrants like Globalive/Yak, Shaw, etc.

    I’m not surprised that they are doing this. It is an inevitable move as they will both need to implement a GSM-style technology when they move to 4G/LTE as that standard is based on the GSM lineage.

    Also I think CBC’s writer (Peter Nowak) hasn’t fully understood GSM’s relationship with WCDMA and HSPA. You can’t blame him really as it is a complex relationship. I did a lot of research on this recently and according to what I came up with, WCDMA and HSPA are two forms of GSM technology and in fact not something different than. WCDMA is responsible for the voice part and HSPA is for the data part. Most all modern “GSM” phones like the iPhone actually use WCDMA and HSPA and so there isn’t this differentiation that he seems to indicate.

    Anyways, god article Thanks for linking to it. One thing’s for sure…the next few years are going to be interesting for wireless in Canada. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out!

    Aslam

  • I agree that you won’t see a difference. I have all of my services under Rogers out of convenience, and I’ve always had good service from them. I left Bell due to their customer service and I’ve never had the pleasure of being a Telus customer. The rates are expensive, but comparable to what Telus is pushing out with the HTC Touch.

    One of the problems we have in Canada is that it is so vast and it does cost a significant amount of money to put in infrastructure. In the US, they have higher density areas, which make it more cost effective to put in that infrastructure. We have large swaths of nothing with many lower density areas.

    You are right though; business is about to pick up.

  • I agree that you won’t see a difference. I have all of my services under Rogers out of convenience, and I’ve always had good service from them. I left Bell due to their customer service and I’ve never had the pleasure of being a Telus customer. The rates are expensive, but comparable to what Telus is pushing out with the HTC Touch.

    One of the problems we have in Canada is that it is so vast and it does cost a significant amount of money to put in infrastructure. In the US, they have higher density areas, which make it more cost effective to put in that infrastructure. We have large swaths of nothing with many lower density areas.

    You are right though; business is about to pick up.

  • StewartK

    Competition?? Lower rates?? There are a few fuel comapnies around (Shell, PetroCan, Essso etc.) I dont see any “price wars” there…and I dont expect to see any in the cell phone industry either.
    Have to make that license money back somehow…

  • StewartK

    Competition?? Lower rates?? There are a few fuel comapnies around (Shell, PetroCan, Essso etc.) I dont see any “price wars” there…and I dont expect to see any in the cell phone industry either.
    Have to make that license money back somehow…

  • StewartK

    Competition?? Lower rates?? There are a few fuel comapnies around (Shell, PetroCan, Essso etc.) I dont see any “price wars” there…and I dont expect to see any in the cell phone industry either.
    Have to make that license money back somehow…

  • June Le

    mmm…if i was roger i would be doing a lil thinking on how SQUASH those peasants. lets hope in the end its better for…us!! woohoo

  • June Le

    mmm…if i was roger i would be doing a lil thinking on how SQUASH those peasants. lets hope in the end its better for…us!! woohoo

  • Andrew

    well the sad thing is even if bell or telus do convert to GSM to get an iphone would be very annoying because the no contract price is so high! but also even though the iphone 3G’s data plan isn’t exactly unlimited but it pretty much is and rogers network is a lot better than both companies coverage and speed wise of course. And also does anyone find fido and rogers phone reps to be extremely annoying? I was calling fido support the other day and after spending about 25 minutes on hold someone finally picks and i ask him a question and he answered it and for about ten minutes tried to sell me stuff and after finally getting off the phone with him and go on my laptop i find out on Fido.ca he lied! like wtf is that!? useless.

  • Andrew

    well the sad thing is even if bell or telus do convert to GSM to get an iphone would be very annoying because the no contract price is so high! but also even though the iphone 3G’s data plan isn’t exactly unlimited but it pretty much is and rogers network is a lot better than both companies coverage and speed wise of course. And also does anyone find fido and rogers phone reps to be extremely annoying? I was calling fido support the other day and after spending about 25 minutes on hold someone finally picks and i ask him a question and he answered it and for about ten minutes tried to sell me stuff and after finally getting off the phone with him and go on my laptop i find out on Fido.ca he lied! like wtf is that!? useless.

  • I don’t know why they don’t have a plan in the works already. They are making millions on the SAF’s. If it isn’t going to cost them 2 billion to set up they should be doing it. They each paid like 800 million in the auction so they have the money.

  • I don’t know why they don’t have a plan in the works already. They are making millions on the SAF’s. If it isn’t going to cost them 2 billion to set up they should be doing it. They each paid like 800 million in the auction so they have the money.

  • I don’t know why they don’t have a plan in the works already. They are making millions on the SAF’s. If it isn’t going to cost them 2 billion to set up they should be doing it. They each paid like 800 million in the auction so they have the money.

  • Radio Engineerering Nerd

    I suggest Aslam should use another source of information in the research about WCDMA and HSPA. WCDMA is the Radio Access technology based on Direct Sequence Code Division Multiple Access and is an evolution of the GSM standard. HSPA is an air interface feature available in the WCDMA Radio Access network. So HSPA is WCDMA. And there are many differences between GSM and WCDMA if you consider how the access technology is implemented! In particular this is true for the radio network and the air interface. The closer to the core network you go the smaller the differences between GSM and WCDMA and I agree GSM and WCDMA work together very well because they originate from the same standard and many core network nodes are unwitting of the access technology used in the radio network.

    And it is not true WCDMA is responsible for the voice part and HSPA is responsible for the data part! Before HSPA was introduced in WCDMA networks all the packet data was carried over power controlled bearers, as WCDMA R99 PS data. Today there are still some parts of the packet data traffic that is carried over R99 PS bearer and not as HSPA. With HSPA the data is sent as rate controlled packets in DL and in UL the shared data channel is power controlled.

    And HSPA can carry voice calls as well. You have heard of VoIP that is packet voice that can be carried over HSPA. Maybe we will see circuit switch voice over HSPA as well.

    And it is not true most all modern “GSM” phones like the iPhone actually use WCDMA and HSPA. Only the phones that are supporting both GSM and WCDMA/HSPA can be used under both technologies. There are still many pure GSM phones and many pure WCDMA/HSPA phones. The first iPhone was a GSM phone only and could not be used for WCDMA/HSDPA services. The iPhone Rogers is providing now is supporting both technologies GSM/WCDMA/HSDPA (High Speed in DL only) but still able to send UL data as WCDMA R99 packet data with lower speed than HSPA.

    Hope this will clarify some misunderstanding.

  • John

    My iPhone works with bell yours Should too, been using it for 3 months now no problems so far. I exited my contract early because I dislike rogers and their customer service and rates, but their phones are nice. I heard bell will have more 3g phones before the Vancouver olympics which would be nice

    Nice article.

  • John

    My iPhone works with bell yours Should too, been using it for 3 months now no problems so far. I exited my contract early because I dislike rogers and their customer service and rates, but their phones are nice. I heard bell will have more 3g phones before the Vancouver olympics which would be nice

    Nice article.

  • John

    My iPhone works with bell yours Should too, been using it for 3 months now no problems so far. I exited my contract early because I dislike rogers and their customer service and rates, but their phones are nice. I heard bell will have more 3g phones before the Vancouver olympics which would be nice

    Nice article.

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