Rogers AT&T Wireless GSM / GPRS / EDGE, Canada
The Rogers AT&T 2G GSM / GPRS network was established nationwide across Canada during a network rollout which started in early 2001 and continued to 2003. The network now (2004) has over 4.1 million subscribers and can boast a 93% population coverage.
The success of this network has now prompted Rogers AT&T, in a concurrent operation with its US partner AT&T, to enhance the Canadian and US networks by introducing EDGE (enhanced data rates for GSM evolution) capability across the network. The rollout in Canada started in Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area allowing subscribers with EDGE-capable handsets to benefit from the higher data speeds of 100kbps to 170kbps.
Rogers AT&T is calling this a 3G network enhancement, but according to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) the data rates for 3G have to be 384kbps and above. So, although EDGE is a 3G technology the Rogers network is a true 2.5G enhancement.
EDGE COST AND HANDSETS
The theoretical maximum for this EDGE network is 448kbps, providing the handset can operate on eight channels simultaneously at 56kbps each (Rogers does not have such a handset on the market yet). The Sony Ericsson GC-82 PC (marketed by Rogers) has four channels and this can offer a theoretical maximum data rate of 224kbps (more likely to top out at 170kbps).
The estimated investment in carrying out EDGE enhancement across the Canadian network is between CA$20m and CA$25m. For enhanced data rates on this type of network this could be seen as something of a bargain compared to the billions of dollars being spent on some of the W-CDMA 3G networks in other countries.
NETWORK EQUIPMENT CONTRACTORS
Ericsson has been the supplier and installer of core network equipment for Rogers AT&T since the rollout of 2G GSM / GPRS network infrastructure started in 2001. They were still under contract to implement EDGE technology across Canada starting in 2004. Under the terms of the existing 2001 agreement, the largest ever awarded to Ericsson in Canada, Ericsson provided a complete 2G GPRS / GSM network with EDGE enhancement.
Agilent Technologies provided Rogers AT&T with their operations support system (OSS) to manage the quality of the new EDGE GPRS wireless data services. This included the Agilent OSS session analyser, the Agilent OSS GPRS session trace, protocol analysis and call trace and Agilent OSS QoS analyser.
Wi-Fi AND OTHER SERVICES
Mobility Network Systems provided their proprietary WiFiRAN technology, which is completely compatible with the existing 2G / 2.5G technology, to enhance the connectivity and service for wireless data customers between wireless local area networks (WLAN) and the Rogers AT&T GPRS network.
Azaire Systems were asked by Rogers to provide a core system for WiFi enabled HOTSPOT locations across Canada. The HOTSPOT locations are public locations such as conference centres, stations, airports and large hotels and are operated under an inter-carrier agreement (March 2004) that allows roaming, and also allows customers to connect via their own mobile operator account. Customers would be able to connect via an existing Rogers account and pay for data and internet services online with a credit card or via their account.
Yahoo, a well known internet services company, has also signed a deal with Rogers AT&T to port their internet services (mail, news and messenger) for mobile phone and PDA use. Gameloft has provided Java standard games especially for mobile phone use on the Rogers AT&T network.
MULTIMEDIA MESSAGING CENTRE
Rogers AT&T chose Lightsurf Technologies to host and manage its multimedia messaging centre, which allows an online picture album, picture mail and advanced picture text messaging.
The services provided to Rogers have included the open standards MMS platform to integrate media storage, media optimisation, publishing, delivery, database and billing. The open standards MMS platform included power media processor (PMP) to improve image and video output quality for camera phones, intelligent media optimisation and processing, media storage, message integration and also custom user interface designs so that Rogers could incorporate new services or modify existing ones.
NEW HANDSETS FOR NEW SERVICES
Rogers also introduced a range of new data cards and handsets to take advantage of the new EDGE technology and to allow customers to access new services such as email and picture / video messaging. Sony Ericsson has provided its new GC82 EDGE PC card for the use of wireless data laptop customers.
The Treo 600 smart phone, the first quad band phone in Canada (850MHz / 900MHz / 1,800MHz / 1,900MHz) has been introduced, which allows the use of messaging and simple email services and incorporates many advanced features such as VGA camera, MP3 player and PDA.
Research in Motion introduced their new Blackberry 7780 that features a backlit QWERTY keyboard, email, phone, SMS, internet browser and PDA organiser in one device. Rogers also introduced camera phone combinations such as the Motorola 600, the Nokia 6200 and the Sony Ericsson T616 and T900i.
HIGH SPEED DOWNLINK PACKET ACCESS
In October 2005 Rogers began a trial of new services in conjunction with Ericsson. The services included UMTS-HSDPA (universal mobile telephone system-high speed downlink packet access). The service was a success and was launched commercially in mid-2006 and the rollout of the network is expected to be completed in 2007.
HSDPA allows Rogers even faster data rates than previously. Rogers has also introduced IMS (internet protocol multimedia subsystem), which is an IP-based service creation environment that enabled Rogers to introduce new multimedia voice, data, audio and video services (Quadruple Play) across its multiple networks (including mobile wireless, Cable and DSL and Fixed Wireless).
IMS has made it possible to bring the various Rogers networks into a single service environment. Rogers also introduced VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services in the Toronto area as a trial in 2005 and is expected to offer it across the country by mid-2007.
Rogers has also announced that its TDMA analogue network will be shut down by the end of May 2007 so that they can focus on GSM expansion. In addition the new Apple i-Phone is expected to be released across Canada by early 2008.