Initial test in Canada findings reveal that the new 3500MHz 5G system boosts internet speeds, making Rogers a speed-competitive carrier for the first time in years.
We’re about to begin a nationwide road test of 3500MHz in Canada. Rogers, Bell, and Telus customers with recent Samsung Galaxy S or iPhones can access the spectrum.
3500MHz changed the game in one day of testing in Toronto. The best Canadian 3500MHz speeds are quicker than any US mid-band network, double 5G capabilities.
New airwaves change everything
3500MHz twice the spectrum available to Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Toronto and doubles performance. The networks are live and function with popular phones, so they’re not empty. Old phones can’t reach the newer airwaves, so they’re clearer.
Adding 70MHz of mid-band to Rogers’ present haul boosted speeds to 782Mbps down and 129Mbps up, with 12-13ms latencies. I received 649Mbps down and 93Mbps up outside Rosedale subway station on 3500MHz. I saw 665Mbps down and 119Mbps up outside the Lawrence West subway station with 3500MHz.
3500 vs. non-3500 can be huge. In Leslieville, Rogers’ network without 3500MHz delivered 134-164Mbps down and 29-58Mbps up. Just a few streets west, I received 455Mbps down and 35Mbps up.
My testing show that Rogers’ official 3500MHz coverage map is accurate. When I went to 3500MHz sites, they all had it; I even noticed it in places like Front and York that day.
In tests along Queen Street in Leslieville, I hit 3500MHz a few blocks from the “official” border, although Rogers’ coverage map seems accurate.
At Front and York Streets, we achieved 249Mbps down on Rogers with the new spectrum turned on; turning it off in our phone’s settings decreased speeds to 70Mbps down.
Bell combines its 60MHz and Telus’ 20MHz for 80MHz of mid-band, ahead of Rogers. On Bell’s network, I saw 1,648Mbps, which is faster than T-network Mobile’s in the US.
I saw 785-957Mbps down and 77-82Mbps up with 19-23ms latency near Yonge and Lawrence.
Both are better than last year’s Toronto drive tests. Bell averaged 331Mbps down and maxed at 788Mbps last year. Rogers averaged 165Mbps and reached 459Mbps.
Bell’s coverage map wasn’t available when we tested, but we were able to go from 3500MHz to 5G to 4G in the same place.
3500Mhz 5G speeds dropped to 858Mbps down and 82Mbps up, and 4G LTE to 879Mbps down and 54Mbps up.
Yes, “standard” 5G and 4G LTE speeds were similar, proving how important 3500MHz is. Bell’s previous approach to 5G was to shuffle around existing 4G airwaves and label them “5G” That got you the icon, but not much more performance. Now, performance has improved.
Canada’s 5G Future
Speed tests are irrelevant after a certain point. If one carrier gets 1Gbps and the other gets 1.6Gbps, both look to have enough capacity for many customers to run 20-50Mbps downloading, gaming, and video-streaming apps.
Mid-band ensures capacity when things get congested. The place where I tried Rogers is flooded with Blue Jays fans.
Later this year or later, 3500MHz’s effects will be seen. Some exceed the airwaves’ capacity.
The CRTC determined last year that the Big Three may be obliged to rent their network to new entrants if they had their own airwaves and undertook some buildout work. That would allow Videotron and Cogeco to offer mobile service in Toronto and other regions of the country, based on their tiny 3500MHz allotments and renting the Big Three networks. They’ve claimed they’ll do it, but haven’t provided details.
Verizon and T-Mobile have expanded their wireless home ISP services with their new mid-band capability. Bell and Rogers haven’t concentrated on it yet, but I expect Sasktel, Xplornet, and TBayTel will leverage their 3500MHz to serve new customers.
Next week’s Fastest Mobile Networks Canada road trip will test the new technologies.