What is AWS?

AWS stands for Advanced Wireless Services. This service took over the bandwidth space once used for wireless cable TV feeds (Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service in the United States and Canada if you want to get technical), but has been made obsolete by expanded wired cable and satellite services.

AWS is used for transferring cellular data, voice, video, and messaging services. It can handle devices using 3G and 4G technology, making the bandwidth very desirable to cellular providers. (Again getting technical...uplink information is broadcast between 1710 to 1755 MHz while downlink information is sent between 2110 and 2155 MHz).

Who can offer AWS in Canada?

Canadian AWS bandwidth was auctioned off in 2008. This was divided into six chunks and divided into regions, with three of these chunks required to go to newcomers in the cellular market:

- Rogers took control of one bandwidth chunk across Canada. Globallive (aka Wind) also won a chunk in every market, but got varying bandwidths.

- Bell and Telus took two blocks in every province except Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where only Telus got winning bids.

advanced wireless system cellular antenna- Quebecor (aka Videotron) was the only newcomer to get bandwidth in Quebec. They also bought bandwidth in southern and eastern Ontario.

- Shaw took chunks from Manitoba west to British Columbia.

- Bragg won bandwidth chunks in the Atlantic provinces as well as Alberta.

- DAVE Wireless (aka Moblicity) took bandwidth in Alberta and British Columbia.

- Manitoba Telecom (MTS) and Sasktel got spectrum in their home provinces.

Providers will be limited to directly providing AWS in areas where they own bandwidth, although companies are required to share towers across the country. These providers can partner with each other to expand service, as Bell and Telus have done with their earlier cellular efforts.

Who has AWS services in operation today?

Globalive was the first to roll out services in December of 2009 with the introduction of Wind Mobile. Their service covers Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Whistler. DAVE Wireless changed their name to Mobilicity, rolling out their network in May of 2010. They currently cover Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa and the Gatineau area. Videotron launched their own AWS service in Montreal and Québec City in September of 2010.

Rogers and Telus will soon join these companies in offering AWS. Rogers will use the spectrum for their new LTE 4G service to launch later in 2011. Initial coverage will include Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, expanding to the top twenty-five service areas next year. Telus will have a similar setup at the start of 2012.

What does AWS mean to consumers?

Most U.S. high speed cellular services are moving over to the 700mhz, which was once controlled by analog television. Canada will be phasing out the last analog broadcasts in August, opening up the spectrum for local cellular companies and allowing direct compatibility with U.S. equipment.

The introduction of AWS means that wireless broadband speeds and access will be greatly expanded, likely at a lower cost, in the near future. Mobilicity for example already offers several unlimited data, text and voice services for a monthly flat rate that is very competitive in comparison to legacy services.

Although AWS networks are still being rolled out across the country, and coverage may not be available yet in all areas, the introduction of AWS should be good Canadians who will get faster, more advanced services at potentially lower prices.

Editor’s note: The above article is a guest post by Steven Farrell, administrator of the website ReversePhoneLookup.org.