Canadians in the large cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are used to paying a premium for wireless data. Thanks to a system that limited price-lowering competition to regional markets in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and to a lesser extent, Quebec, many have held out hope that one company in particular, Shaw-owned Wind Mobile, would offer the relief they so desperately need.
Though Wind Mobile has talked about its burgeoning LTE network for over a year, it has been constrained by one major factor: a lack of handsets that support the AWS-3 spectrum it purchased (for a steal) in early 2015. Phones have supported the well-used AWS-1 band for five years now, but AWS-3 uses a different pair of frequencies in the 1700/2100Mhz range. Instead of creating a separate band for that pair, the governing body behind international spectrum allocation, 3GPP, combined AWS-1, AWS-3 and AWS-4 (owned by Dish Network in the U.S. and yet to be auctioned in Canada) into a single Band 66.
Now, the LG V20, which is expected to be released in Canada next month, is confirmed to be the first device approved for use with Band 66, which will let it be tested and ultimately used with Wind Mobile's LTE network when it is launched either later this year or in early 2017. The company has been overhauling its HSPA+ networks throughout Canada, beginning with the western-most provinces and moving east, in anticipation of its LTE network, partnering with Nokia to replace aging tower equipment.
Not only does the V20 provide Wind Mobile with its first LTE-capable device, but it builds a platform on which the carrier can advertise its new high-speed capabilities.
Not only does the V20 provide Wind Mobile with its first LTE-capable device, it builds a platform on which the carrier can advertise its new high-speed capabilities when it does launch, offering tier one devices that take advantage of the network. And the V20 is likely the first of many products released in the next few months that support Band 66, though notably the iPhone 7 is absent from the list.
For those in the U.S., the LG V20 also supports T-Mobile's new 256QAM, triple-carrier aggregation LTE network, supporting theoretical speeds of up to 400Mbps on its combination of Band 4, Band 2, and Band 12. Cellular Insights, in their preliminary tests with the V20 in New York City, found T-Mobile spitting out speeds of around 180Mbps, something that Canadians have only recently experienced with Bell's 3xCA in big cities like Toronto. T-Mobile, which is Wind Mobile's main roaming partner in the U.S., is also expected to roll out its first sites with AWS-3 support in the next few months.
So this is great news for those anticipating Wind Mobile's LTE network, and while the company won't promise a firm launch date, it won't be long now.
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