Explain Like I’m Five: Wireless Spectrum in Canada

Explain Like I'm Five!

Breaking news from Industry Canada: April, 2015 will see yet another auction of wireless spectrum in the 2500MHz band. Apparently Minister Moore et al couldn’t wait until the upcoming 700MHz auction was over and done with before spilling the beans on the one after that.

I must confess that of my various competencies in mobile technology, LTE spectrum expertise is probably the most lacking. From what I understand the Big Three currently offer LTE service on Band 4 / 1700MHz AWS, and both Bell and Rogers additionally offer 2600 MHz LTE via Band 7. Beyond this, I get confused pretty quick. And I can’t be the only one.

So Imma go ahead and ask some dumb questions so that the other spectrum n00bs amongst us don’t have to. Be gentle…

1. Why 2500MHz and not 2600?

According to Wikipedia, Band 7 looks to be an LTE standard for Europe and much of Asia — Rogers has even issued press releases trumpeting its roaming agreements with 2600MHz-compatible LTE carriers. So is 2500MHz at all compatible with 2600MHz? And if not, why would any Canadian carrier want spectrum that wouldn’t yield them that sweet, sweet roaming revenue?

Similarly, why would any globe-trotting Canadian want a handset with an LTE radio they can’t use anywhere else?

2. Doesn’t Bell already use 700MHz LTE?

The Bell MiFi I used up until a short time ago ran on 700MHz LTE — that’s what the spec sheet on Bell’s website says… If Bell is already using this spectrum, where and how did they get it? And if they’ve already got it, why do they need more?

3. Did the new entrants not see LTE coming?

If only Dave Dobbin were a forums member and would answer this…

Again from Wikipedia, LTE was finalized as a standard in December of 2008, so Mobilicity and WIND must have figured that the Big Three would be aggressive in building out support for it in the years to follow. Should they not have been doing the same? If the Big Three can run LTE on AWS, why can’t Mobilicity and WIND?

There may be additional questions from other forum members; I encourage you to share them here. Knowledge is power, right? Let’s spread some around!