updated 08:50 pm EDT, Tue September 13, 2011
Bell LTE goes live with modems now, tablets soon
Bell on Wednesday will become the second Canadian carrier to formally launch an LTE-based 4G (link active soon) service. Going live first in the Golden Triangle area in and around Toronto, the service will echo the same 75Mbps peak, 12Mbps to 25Mbps real-world speeds seen on Rogers. Bell's edge will be its support for 42Mbps HSPA+ as a 'fallback' with Rogers' service at a more modest 21Mbps.
Service plans will be unusually close to but not better than the Rogers plans, which start at $45 per month for 1.5GB and use a flex-rate plan that kicks users up to higher tiers once they reach a given tier's cap.
The network will start out at first with the same modem as Rogers, the Sierra Wireless U313, for $80 on a contract or $220 contract-free. In the the near future, it should also pick up the Novatel Wireless U679. Smartphones and tablets are coming "later this year," Bell said, though this is believed to include the Galaxy S II LTE and Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE.
Telus is the last remaining major Canadian carrier to go without LTE but is expected to go that route soon. Unlike in the US, all Canadian carriers should share at least one frequency for 4G and could be in the unique position of letting customers switch networks without having to switch devices or lose features.