TELUS has just announced the launch of their EVDO (Evolution Data Only) high speed wireless network for a handful of Canadian cities. Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver will be the first cities to enjoy the 3G network that can transmit data from 400 to 700 kilobits per second. Those speeds are comparable to home ADSL and cable speeds, plus offer the portability business and power users love.
TELUS is the first cell phone provider in Canada to offer true high speed wireless service. Rumors floated around that the 3G network would launch in January of 2006, so the early announcement may have other wireless providers fighting to get their 3G plans in order. According to my sources, Rogers has their EDGE network pretty much in place, but rolling out the network to the customers has languished.
I spoke with Julie Smithers (Media Relations) at TELUS and found out that under the agreement to share network resources with Bell, both companies will now offer EVDO services to Canadians. It would follow that network coverage will continue to grow as both companies implement the software and hardware needed.
So, what mobile devices will be able to utilize the EVDO's capability? TELUS has 2 mobile devices and 2 cards that'll be able to work on it out-of-the-box. The UTStarcom Pocket PC 6700 has just been launched with TELUS, however no pricing details were available when this article was written. The next PDA announced to be available for EVDO is the Blackberry 7130e. The 7130e is currently not on the TELUS website, but plans for its availability are for 2006. The high speed cards include the Kyocera KPC 650 and the Sierra Wireless 650. The Sierra Wireless 650 is the only card available at this time.
I'm not one to spread rumours, but I can see TELUS offering a firmware upgrade to their currently sold Audiovox 6600 since Verizon offers the 6600 as an EVDO PDA. According to a TELUS insider, the Motorola v710 is also another handset that can be flashed to support EVDO. It wouldn't take much for TELUS to carry out the upgrade, plus the current owners of these devices are prime candidates for EVDO services.
In the same conversation with Julie Smithers, she dismissed the possiblity of flashing the Audiovox 6600 or the Motorola v710 to enable them for EVDO service. I'm also here to squash the rumor that the Motorola v710 can be flashed to EVDO. The phone by all accounts is can only handle 1xRTT CDMA. Anybody care to comment on this last point?.
Plan pricing for EVDO services has yet to be announced. According to my TELUS source, he expects them to come up with pricing by next week.
The plans for the data cards are called the Connect Plans. The plans for the handsets are 1) not posted, or 2) will remain the same as the E-Mail, Web & Voice Plans. We'll keep investigating and add to this post as we get the details.
Personally, I'm impressed with TELUS' ability to get the network up and running despite the continuing labour dispute with TELUS employees. A tentative agreement was reached earlier this month and TELUS employees have until today to cast their online vote to accept or reject the terms of the agreement. The ballot count will be announced tomorrow, November 16th, 2005.
Whatever the count, I'm happy to see the EVDO network launched for both Bell and TELUS. I'll be looking forward to testing its VOIP, email, and web capabilities. If my plan works out, I'll route all my calls through Skype and never have to pay long distance charges again [insert sinister laugh here].