Following months of speculation, Telus Corp. is officially joining the next-generation wireless race with fellow incumbents BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc.
The Vancouver-based telecom giant announced it will launch its 4G LTE (fourth-generation long-term evolution) wireless network in 14 cities across Canada on Friday, with an eye to making the service available to the bulk of the Canadian population by the end of the year.
Initial launch markets will include a number of major centres in Ontario including Toronto and Ottawa, in addition to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and Yellowknife.
"We are not introducing a new rate plan or charging a premium to enjoy our new network," Eros Spadotto, executive vice-president of technology strategy and operations, said in a release.
LTE is billed by industry players as the latest evolution in wireless technologies because it provides consumers with faster download speeds on such mobile devices as smartphones and tablet computers. For example, Telus estimated in its release that downloading a 600-megabyte music album with a 4G LTE-capable mobile device could be accomplished in as little as 3.5 minutes.
As a precursor to its announcement, Telus signed a network sharing agreement for LTE with rival BCE. The two companies, which already share a wireless network, only plan to share infrastructure and not spectrum for LTE.
Also on Thursday, both Telus and BCE signed deals with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to provide equipment for their LTE networks. The signing of those agreements were witnessed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a ceremony in Beijing.
BCE, meanwhile, announced an expansion of its LTE network in conjunction with its quarterly earnings on Thursday. The Montreal-based company said its LTE network is now available in 14 urban centres, with additional planned advancements in 2012.
"LTE is the gold standard of wireless technology, enabling Canadian consumers to connect and Canadian business to compete at a global level with access to the latest superphones, data services and mobile content," said Bell Mobility president Wade Oosterman in a release.
Rogers Communications Inc., though, was the first company to launch a LTE network in Canada, kicking off its service in Ottawa last July. Its rollout also continues, with plans to reach more than half the Canadian population by year's end.