BCE Inc. (BCE-T) said on Thursday it is doubling the speeds of the Bell Mobility wireless network beginning in Toronto next week, part of a push by large Canadian carriers to distinguish the quality of their advanced networks in an era of increasing competition.
On Nov. 23, Bell will begin offering a new wireless data stick, which connects users' laptops to the company's wireless Internet network, and will charge a $10-premium for the service above the network's normal cost. The service is being introduced in Toronto first, a company spokesperson said, and is only really accessible for now on one wireless data stick available for sale next week.
Currently, the company's wireless network has maximum theoretical speeds of 21 megabits per second (Mbps), which will double to 42 Mbps when the change is implemented (though actual speeds are far lower than the maximum).
Telus Corp., with which Bell shares its national wireless network, announced in August that it would begin a similar service in early 2011. At the time, Telus stressed that the "ecosystem" for wireless smartphones and other devices that can use the doubled speed - achieved through what is known as "dual cell" technology - remains quite small at the moment.
Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI.B-T) has also announced that it has begun field trials of next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, which are technically known as fourth-generation networks, or 4G, in comparison to the third-generation or 3G networks currently in use. Bell and Telus later said they were also conducting 4G trials, but moving to dual cell technology permits what some analysts have called 4G-like speeds on existing networks.
In a release, Bell Mobility president Wade Oosterman said, "By implementing... dual cell technology, Bell Mobility offers clients the ability to access the Internet and other data services at what we believe are the fastest mobile data speeds commercially available from any wireless carrier in North America."
As new wireless players such as Wind Mobile and Mobilicity have pushed into the Canadian wireless market, the larger players such as Bell and Rogers have stressed the superiority and breadth of their networks - compared to the smaller, and relatively less reliable networks of the new challengers. But between the three largest wireless providers, wireless network speed and quality is roughly the same, leading to various court challenges over marketing claims to have the "best" or "most reliable" network.
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