Canadian CDMA carriers announce HSPA upgrade

In a move that does not seem to have caught anyone by surprise, Bell Canada of Montreal and Telus Corp. of Vancouver announced last week they are working together on a High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network, scheduled for completion in 2010.

"It's been widely rumored in the last few weeks and for a year financial analysts have been saying it's coming any day," said Lawrence Surtees, vice-president and principal analyst for communications research at Toronto-based IDC Canada. "I've been writing about it for two and half years that this is going to be a logical progression.""

Currently both carriers provide wireless services in Canada using code division multiple access (CDMA), rather than Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), which is the standard used by Rogers Wireless of Toronto and ubiquitous outside of Canada and the U.S.

Rather than ditch their respective CDMA and EVDO networks, Telus and Bell indicated they will continue to offer existing wireless services for now.

Telus, the incumbent carrier in Western Canada, said it will support its EVDO and Mike networks "for the foreseeable future" while Bell said it "continues to expand and enhance" its national CDMA network. Bell Canada is the incumbent carrier in Ontario and Quebec.

"Certainly for the foreseeable future we will be offering EVDO," said Stephen Howe, senior vice-president, wireless network and chief technology officer at Bell Mobility.