Thursday 2 August 2012

Bell's Deferral Account Report of 31 Jul 12

The CRTC has released the Bell Deferral Account report submitted by Bell  on 31 Jul 2012 and it is a shocker.

The report completely revamps the schedule and throws out all previous ones, including the barebones version submitted as recently as May 2012 and reported in this blog. The bottom line is Bell states it will not be a position to implement the Deferral Account wireless plan until 31 Aug 2014. It shows 100 Deferral Account locales being activated on that date.

This includes the 5 areas in the Algoma District and means that, barring further changes by Bell, the Deferral Account service implementation is now not scheduled as follows:

Deferral Account Area
Original Date
New Date
Echo Bay
31 Aug 2014
31 Aug 2014
SSM -Airport
31 Aug 2014
St. Joseph Island
31 Aug 2014
31 Aug 2014

I suspect Bell will proceed with the activation of some new sites in the Goulais and SSM-Airport areas but they will not be part of the Deferral Account program initially and will not be eligible for the special rates until much later, if ever. 

In my simplified interpretation, Bell states the implementation of the HSPA+ wireless solution will be much more complicated than anticipated and it wants to conduct field trials in nine selected locations as shown on this map, all of which happen to be in southern Ontario, before rolling out the technology in all Deferral Account areas.  

You can read the full Bell report  and the Bell schedule as released by the CRTC by following the links.

It is obvious the new proposal is a major disappointment to those living in the Deferral Account areas. The question now becomes one of whether or not the CRTC will accept the Bell plan or force them to somehow speed up the roll-out.  At the Telecom Summit in Toronto on 05 Jun 12, Leonard Katz, Acting Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission made the following statement concerning Bell  and the Deferral Account program;

“Unfortunately, it's a different story with Bell Canada and Bell Aliant. Nearly two years after we issued our directive, Bell has extended broadband service to only three of its 112 communities.
Broadband service is more and more of a necessity for full participation in the digital economy and in our life as Canadians. The funds were collected over a number of years from Bell subscribers. I urge our friends at Bell to give a higher priority to the needs of the people in these rural and remote communities by accelerating their rollout plans.”

One can hope that the CRTC will continue to press Bell to speed up the implementation. In the cases of the Algoma District areas, I suspect Bell could roll-out DSL quicker and with less effort than the challenges they seem to be facing with the HSPA+ wireless roll-out. A lot depends on whether or not the existing pole-lines could handle the additional cable loads.

I will be doing some follow-up work in this whole Deferral Account arena and will pass-on other observations in due course.


  1. Wasn't sure where to post this however, I was elated beyond words to discover myself googling West of, in and East of Spanish Ontario yesterday around 7pm and again at 11 pm on my way back top the Sault. The black hole that was an eternity for at least us Rogers users now can see the light hallelujah! This black hole (ironically in an Indian Reserve as I find most gaps are likely to be found here), was one of the largest from Sault to Sudbury.
    Not sure if this is "just a test" as I'll soon find out shortly as I roll through there again. My Primus Canada speedtest resulted in 5.4ish Megs down, 1 Meg down respectively which is on par with my findings from McKerrow to the Sault where service provides.

    The only other black holes are a 1 to 2 km stretch from Squirrel Island (about 4kms East of Garden River) which lasts right up to the entrance of the Ojibway camp ground when heading East towards Echo Bay.
    The St. Joes Island turnoff hwy.17 East to just East of the town of Desbararats (ironically a new tower for CDMA Bell was erected here with plenty of space for Rogers to mount their canopy sticks and to add salt to the wound this tower is now in full view of my once pasturistic view out my farms front window.)

    A small 3km stretch East of Iron Bridge alongside the Spanish River.

    A large gap (approx. 14 miles) starting just East of the old Country Style Donuts in Blind River all the way just West of Barker or better known as Spragge.
    Finally a small gap on the West approach to Webwood roughly 3 or 4 miles.

    Again this is for Rogers customers..Bell does slightly better coverage on this stretch of highway 17 Trans Canada but still has gaps.

    I work this stretch and have now for 10 years atleast 3 trips per week.

    1. I liked your post. I drove the TC westbound this summer the gaps I found along the way are consistent with what you post. I was thinking some of the CBN/nets of Northern Ontario should do a real-time crowd sourced map of connections along the TC ...

    2. Such a map is available at

      Note there are also Apple “App Store” and Android “Google Play” versions for download to phones.

  2. Confirmed, the Rogers network is ON at Cutler/Spanish and points around. Full HSPA+ voice/data at very nice speeds 5.4/.96 megs down/up. Good job all involved!

    1. Thank you for providing an update based on your personal experience and sharing it with other users. Firsthand experience can usually provide the best information about the situation on the ground. As a safety precaution, I recommend you only do these tests while riding as a passenger or you are pulled over to the side of the road.

      There have been some efforts by both Bell and Rogers to close the gaps along the Hwy 17 corridor.

      Most of the cell sites between SSM and Sudbury in operation before 2010 are either shared by Bell and Rogers on the same tower - think Nestorville – or collocated in the same general area – think Laird Hill with Bell west of Hwy 17 and Rogers east of Hwy 17. These older sites are now HSPA+ and CDMA for Bell and HSPA+ and GSM for Rogers.

      Since 2010 Bell has built their own HSPA+ only (no CDMA) sites at Echo Bay, Desbarats, Algoma Mills, Hwy 129 near Wharncliffe, and Spanish.

      Rogers has new sites near the Hwy 108/Hwy 17 intersections and installed a collocated a site on the MTS tower near Spanish. They are also scheduled to build a site on Sagamok FN this year.

      All these actions have improved service and coverage and closed the infamous Spanish “dark hole” for HSPA+ plus users but not for CDMA users.

      Sometimes gap can depend on the hardware you are using. Some brands work better than others. A lot of it has to do with how and where the antenna is located in the unit and how the unit is held or pointed. Also if you are looking for a signal, try going to a test mode which is available on most hardware and gives you an actual dBm or ASU reading. These readings are far more accurate than the “bars” in the unit face. In my own case, there is often as much as a two bars difference between my Samsung phone and my wife’s Kyocera phone but the actual readings are only a few dBm apart.

  3. I'm using a Rogers Motorola Razr xt910 which is comparable to the SG2 you mentioned. Both of which are very nice phones in my opinion.
    About the towers where one carrier has their own in locations, why is it that they do this when their towers are close in proximity to another? Wouldn't sharing the tower be the wisest option for cost.

    1. The subject of sharing towers as opposed to collocating towers is a good question.

      The official regulator for tower sites in Canada is Industry Canada/Spectrum Branch (IC/SB). They encourage sharing as the preferred option as explained in their policy document “CPC-2-0-03 - Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems” (

      On the surface, the policy of sharing appears to be the exception rather than the rule in northern Ontario since CPC-2-0-03 came into effect in 2008.

      Although I have not seen the actual justification presented to IC/SB by the vendors for a new tower versus sharing, I can offer some personal observations that seem viable to me.

      a. An existing tower is fully loaded with antenna and is at the maximum load design capacity. An overloaded tower was the suspected reason for a tower collapse on Manitoulin Island in March 2011 (

      b. It would cost as much to reinforce an existing tower as would to build a new one. While I don’t have access to the actual financials, I suspect the final cost of engineering improvements and lost revenue for time delay period for upgrading the existing tower at Bellevue to add Canopy and HSPA may have exceeded the cost of a new tower. However, land ownership issues may have prevented a new tower at this geo-location which is optimum for the area coverage.

      c. The tower owner and the second party want to mount their antenna at the same height in order to maximize area coverage. For example, at the existing Tbaytel Heyden site I suspect Bell may want to be at the same level as the existing cell and/or Canopy antennas.

      d. Existing towers cannot support new technology or design. It is now common for the actual radio gear to be mounted on the antenna support ironwork at the top of the tower instead of in an electronics shelter at the base of the tower. This increases load factors including icing. the same rationale applies to the shift away from monopole (stick) to panel antenna designs by some vendors.

      e. Existing tower owners have firm plans to add their own new equipment to the tower.

      f. A vendor cannot get or will not install the necessary backhaul or backbone into an existing tower

      g. Computer studies indicate an existing tower is not the best location for their network and particular equipment.

      h. Existing towers are old and need to be replaced anyway.

      While not a formal justification, maybe the vendors just dislike each other and do everything in their power to make cooperation difficult.

  4. That my friend is a great read thanks! Oh and "grin" :P on the closing sentence statement which would sound about right with any competitor. Again I can't thank you enough for your knowledge and this website, you do alot to keep us informed on the area which is greatly appreciated.