The World’s Biggest Hotspot?

Announcements from both Bell Canada and Rogers came out today, in what appears to be a race to see who can make all of Canada wireless.

From the Bell Canada press release:

Bell Canada today announced the availability of Sympatico High Speed Unplugged, a nation-wide wireless broadband service which delivers a simple and portable way to get online. Available in both urban and rural areas, the service will offer wireless internet access with speeds of up to 3 mbps to more than two-thirds of Canadians in less than three years.

Sympatico High Speed Unplugged will be launched in the following regions:

– Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer
– British Columbia: Vancouver and Victoria
– Newfoundland: St. Johns
– New Brunswick: Fredericton
– Nova Scotia: Halifax
– Ontario: Barrie, Hamilton, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto,
Ottawa and Windsor
– PEI: Charlottetown
– Quebec: Hull, Montreal, Quebec City
– Yukon: Whitehorse

The introductory offer for the new service includes two distinct speeds and pricing options of 512 kbps for $45 per month and 3 mbps for $60 per month. In addition the service requires a portable modem, available for $99 with a 24 month contract.

From the Rogers press release:

Rogers Communications Inc. today announced an innovation to high speed Internet services. This new product, named Portable Internet from Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet is available in 20 cities across Canada, giving customers access to Internet speeds up to 1.5 mbps download, 256 kbps upload from
anywhere in the coverage footprint.

The network is now in service in 20 markets across Canada: Greater Vancouver Area, Victoria, Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Whitehorse, Greater Toronto Area, Barrie, London, Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Ottawa, Gatineau-Hull, Quebec City, Greater Montreal Area, Charlottetown, Halifax, Fredericton, and St. John’s.
Portable Internet from Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet is available for $49.95/month plus modem purchase at $99.95 and a one-year commitment.

Did you do a double-take like I did? Two almost identical announcements coming out at the same time?

Closer examination shows that Bell Canada and Rogers Communication Inc. are in a joint venture with Inukshuk Wireless Inc. to create a national wireless broadband network.

From the Inukshuk press release from September 16, 2005:

Inukshuk will be the network services provider to Rogers and Bell and their subsidiaries, and will operate on a cost recovery basis. The arrangement will allow the companies to minimize costs and maximize wireless broadband network coverage by pooling their spectrum holdings and leveraging both companies’ existing wireless tower and network transport infrastructures.

Inukshuk will be owned and controlled equally by Rogers and Bell and will plan, design, build, operate and maintain a Canada-wide wireless broadband telecommunications network. Bell and Rogers will each have the right to use 50 per cent of the network’s total transmission capacity. Sales, marketing, end- user customer care and billing functions will be provided directly by Rogers and Bell to their respective customers.

So, we are one step closer to making all of Canada one big hotspot!

Thanks to Marty for pointing out the Bell and Rogers press releases to me!


  1. Wow! I wonder what Manitoba and Saskatchewan did to p-off the wireless powers that be!!

  2. Come to think of it, Stats Canada just released information indicating that the Saskatchewan population has a nose-dive lately. Maybe they’re assuming that we’ll all be moving to Alberta anyway, so … as they often joke, “Last one out, turn off the light!”

  3. What is the definition of ‘all of Canada’? Having attended the Michael Geist lecture at Hart House on Thursday, I was reminded that the people in rural and northern Canada don’t meet these definitions for most corporations. Bell did say 2/3rds right?

  4. I know–they say it is for both urban and rural areas, so I wonder if they picked the most populared places to start, and will expand from there?

    Rob Hyndman picked up on the draw-back, that this won’t be true wireless but “portable internet”. We will still need their modem/router, but that we just won’t have to connect to a phone line to get our internet access….

  5. This is lame. No competition and not real wireless. I suppose, on the latter point, that someone who has a home and an office might find it useful. Bet it’s slower than wire. Bah!

  6. Living an hour drive north (qc side) from the frickin-capital-of-the-country and having no options beyond dialup or, *gulp* sat, is an embarassment (actually the broadband “cutoff line” is about 15 mins drive from downtown). Industry Canada likes to pat themselves on the back for Canada ranking amongst the highest for broadband penetration, but if you look at the statsCan site, they still show that 72% of Canadian communities have no availability. I’ll echo earlier sentiments. “All of Canada” means more than the top 5 cities.

    “Real” wireless or not, if this ever makes it to my area, I will more than gladly pay the cash, and very literally do a happy dance.

  7. it isn’t that other companies do not wish to provide service in SK… it’s that SaskTel won’t let them.