Thursday 18 September 2014

Bell Fixed Wireless Coverage in SSM and Elsewhere

Bell has expanded its Fixed Wireless Internet (FWI) service to include the Sault Ste. Marie (SSM) area.


The Bell FWI service operates in the LTE 2.3/3.5 GHz range. It provides high-speed Internet access with up to 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. It uses a 4G LTE Huawei B2268H Wireless Router that has an external unit and an interior unit.The basic monthly rate is $65.00 excluding taxes

The monthly data cap is 10 GB with overages set at $10 per GB There is also a one-time installation charge of $99.00. 
( As noticed 24 Jul 2015,  data caps and one-time installation charges are no longer identified on the  webpage.) 

This is the projected coverage area for SSM.

Other areas in the Algoma District getting this service to date are Elliot Lake and Iron Bridge/Blind River


  1. Has anyone tried this service yet? I've inquired about it online through chat and have called and received no sale. I am told and both swayed from the offering almost immediately that I'm eligible for the cellular hub. I have to laugh when I say I'm on the hub now and that I'm calling in reference to the Fixed Wireless remember.
    Regardless, I'm met with the conclusion that it's not offered to me as when I give them my coordinates of my location which is just East of Echo Bay/Desbarats area I'm not eligible however the map coverage shows that I'm the coverage.
    Frustrating because the add on for unlimited usage is eligible for only 10 dollars since I have Bell TV...and their land phone, otherwise it would cost only 30 dollars.

    How do you get them to sell me this, that's the hard part since you can't add it to the cart of all the services they offer.

    1. I have not heard of anyone who has subscribed to this Fixed Wireless Service (FWA).

      It my belief that this service was offered by Bell in response to comments by Industry Canada that they were considering the introduction of a “use it or lose it” policy for spectrum licensed to carrier but not being used. Bell was specifically concerned about frequencies it controlled in the 2300 MHz and the 3500 MHz bands. Bell and Rogers used these frequencies to provide service in the now defunct Inukshuk joint venture. These frequencies have been left idle in many parts of the country since the start of the current decade. Over the past few months, Bell has added numerous new areas using the 2300 and 3500 MHz bands to the FWA service.

      The last off-the-record conversation I had with Bell engineers hinted that this service in its present form would not be around for very long as new technology is coming down the pipe.

      One area many carriers are looking at is Self-Optimizing Networks or SONs. SONs adjust basic wireless attributes such as frequencies, antenna radiation patterns, transceiver power et al, in near real-time to optimize the network. They can also provide speed and cap limits on an individual user basis as opposed to a network or sub-network basis. SONs will allow carriers to use the full range of these features available to them.

      Relatively high frequencies like 3500 MHz and 2300 MHz are not really very good for providing broadband (high speed) Internet coverage in rural areas, especially in rolling, hilly and heavily forested areas found in many parts of Northern Ontario. These higher frequencies depend more on line-of-sight between the transmitter and the receiver locations than the lower frequencies such as 700 MHz and 800 MHz which tend to bend slightly to follow the earth curvature and penetrate obstacles like foliage or building infrastructure. On the positive side, the higher frequencies can handle greater bandwidth which makes them valuable in densely populated and high usage areas.

      In many cases the coverage area shown on coverage maps need to be taken with a grain of salt. These maps are often computer generated. While they are very good are taking into account solid terrain features the same cannot be said about how they handle foliage and other obstacles which may vary throughout the year. In any case, the only accurate way to determine wireless coverage is by on the ground tests at the user location.

      I am not sure the exact location “just East of Echo Bay/Desbarats area” the writer is referring to but the maps showing coverage in that area are not very good.

      I think the writer needs to contact Bell by phone and see what happens. The FWA service is listed as a Bell Internet service opposed to a Bell Mobility service so I would try Bell Internet first. It may take a lot of extra effort to get to the right person who is familiar with the service you are looking for.
      Finally with regard to overage insurance, in spite of what the website implies, a contact in the Bell Mobility Executive Offices informed me this page did not apply to wireless service. However, I feel it is a battle worth fighting again.

  2. Thanks for the informed reply, as well as the SON's info! Nice.
    I'm guessing that since it's Inukshuk I'm beating my head against a wall or riding a dying horse. I've read some notes on that infrastructure from the Kawartha's and how those users were dumped to the Cell Based Hub awhile back and the terms of useage changed without most knowing and they're bills were unpleasant.
    As I type I'm pleased with the work done in our area and the BWI5 plan I'm on as of recent so I don't feel rocking the boat is needed at this time however in the future I'm seeing better options coming down the pipe.
    Also I did receive the antenna addon offered for the hub all free which again was an uplifting gift from My sig went from -98db to -59 which didn't seem to matter in terms of speed as at 80 to 90db I was getting consistent speed at 4.9Megs which is the appropriate speed cap.

  3. Fixed wireless providers do not enforce any data caps.  Therefore, you can download or upload large files, run a VoIP phone system, stream music in your office, or use internet-based applications and databases as much as you need to in order to keep your business running at its best.


    1. Matthew’s statement is true as it applies to many fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP). Indeed, a lot of WISPs use the fact they do not apply data caps as part of their advertising and website information.

      Others WISP make no mention whatsoever about data caps. This is now the case with the Bell fixed wireless website. It no longer makes reference to data caps. I have amended the main blog post to reflect the change.

      I still recommend getting confirmation about the data cap policy if one decides to sign up for this product.