Saturday 30 April 2011

Heyden CDMA Cell Site Operational

Heyden cell site is on the air!

A year after the tower was constructed. Tbaytel turned up the cell over the April 29th weekend. The site is 2/2.5 CDMA and that means Rogers hardware will not connect to the site. Bell, Telus, Virgin Mobile and other CDMA based hardware will work. Some pay-as-you-go (prepaid) service add-ons may not work but the basic voice service will.

I understand they used an older software build to get the site operational rather than wait for the latest version. This has no direct impact on the user except a disruption of service for 30-60 minutes next month during early morning hours to allow installation of the latest version.

I drove from Capt. Tilley Park on Saturday, 30 Apr 11 and had an usable cell signal all the way along Hwy 552 West and Hwy 17 into Sault Ste. Marie.

The next step is to get the Canopy broadband (high-speed Internet) service up and running. As previously noted this is scheduled for the end of May timeframe.

From my personal knowledge, discussions with Tbaytel and other sources, I know there is a large number of people interested in getting the Canopy service. The local installer has hired more assistants. He will likely be able to handle between three and five installations a day, subject to the vagaries of the ease of install, travel time to the locale, weather and other things that can affect the work. Therefore, it may take a few days or even weeks to meet the desires of all potential users.

Once the Canopy service is ready to accept users, Tbaytel will get in touch with those who have previously contacted Tbaytel Customer at 1-800-264-9501 or and arrange an appointment.

Friday 15 April 2011

Goulais River Broadband

By the end of May 2011 many in the Goulais River will have access to not one but two different broadband delivery technologies provided by Tbaytel. This comes after years without broadband (high speed Internet) coupled with numerous delays.

The services are:

  • Fixed wireless based on the Motorola Canopy system; and
  • 3G HSPA based cellular data service  (see this blog for more details)

Both systems will use wireless technology and the towers at Batchawana, Bellevue, Goulais (Buttermilk),Heyden and Searchmont will be the base stations for access.  Ideally electronic Line-of-sight (LOS) with one of the base stations is necessary to acquire the signal and the acquired signal has to have the necessary signal strength measured in dBm. 

Unfortunately, the characteristics of wireless technology mean that there will likely be potential users who cannot receive the necessary radio signal.

The chances of receiving signal can be enhanced by using a pop-up type installation for the fixed wireless or adding an external Yagi antenna in the case of 3G HSPA.Tbaytel can address the pop-up antenna issue and Northland Consultants can address the Yagi antenna issue

The fixed wireless will likely be available a few weeks before the 3G HSPA service.  However, it requires the services of a professional installer as arranged through Tbaytel. The 3G HSPA technology can be self-install once the hardware is acquired. See the notes under Wireless Type in the chart below.

These technology are not interchangeable with each having advantages and disadvantages There are notable differences in download/upload speed, hardware, flexibility ,data caps, and price. End users will have to decide what meets their needs beat. Some people may want to get both services.

The following chart addresses some of these issues.

Wireless Type




Fixed Wireless
Small panel or yagi antenna installed on user residence.

1. Relatively inexpensive to install
2. Consistent data speed compared to satellite.
3. Medium range initial user cost
4. Can connect to LAN
5. No data cap

1. Limited data speed
2. Line-of-sight to base station required
3. Subject to terrain masking
4. Requires professional installation.

MRC: $47.95 * 
Speed: up to 4 Mbps but 1.5 Mbps is the norm. 
Activation OTC: $75.00
Pop-up Tower (if needed) $300.00

Data Stick or Data Hub connected to computer. Can use external antenna for better speeds

1. Greatest data speed available in area
2. Broadband and cellular capable
3. Expensive initial user cost without contract
4. Can connect to LAN
5. Can be self installed.

1. Line-of-sight to base station.
2. Speed drops farther user gets from base station
3. Expensive if basic data caps are exceeded
3. Subject to terrain masking

MRC: $35.00 – 1 GB **
$65.00 – 5 GB
Speed: up to 7Mbps rural; 21Mbps urban

Data Hub Cost Purchase $400.00 Reduced if specific length contract signed

Data Stick Cost Purchase $130.00 Reduced if specific length contract signed

* MSRP – may be reduced by bundling or other deals.

** Based on latest rates published on Tbaytel website as of 15 Apr 11.    

3G HSPA Explanation

The network infrastructure being installed by Tbaytel is compatible with the Rogers network infrastructure. That means that Bell or Telus Smartphones, iPads, Data Hubs etc. will not operate or connect to the network.  Bell and Telus CDMA phones will continue to work in the area.

The necessary hardware needs to be acquired from Tbaytel, Rogers or their authorized agents. However, the exact financial impact such as roaming charges for using Rogers hardware over the Tbaytel network has not been made clear at this time.  

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Signs of Work Seen at Bellevue Tower

I saw riggers working on the Bellevue tower when I checked out the site on Wednesday, 13 Apr 11. With the use of binoculars from my vantage point on Bellevue Valley road, it appeared the person on the tower was installing the remedial support hardware required by the tower owner, MTS Allstream.

Once the hardware installation is finished, microwave dishes may be installed at Bellevue, Goulais (Buttermilk) and Heyden as early as next week. They will then be “panned” or aligned, followed by testing. This whole process could take a couple of weeks.

If all goes according to plan, the fixed wireless Canopy broadband system and the 2/2.5G CDMA (Bell/Telus compatible) cellular service may be operational by the end of Apr.

Monday 11 April 2011

Election 2011 Broadband Positions

The following are extracts from the political parties’ platforms as downloaded from their official party website. The information is provided in alphabetical order by party name.

Conservative Party Platform Broadband

In 2010 we consulted experts and businesspeople on positioning Canada to seize the opportunities presented by new information communications technologies. Our purpose is to build on our actions so far in this area:

  • our plan to extend broadband coverage to 200,000 additional households in rural and remote regions; and
  • our successful efforts to increase competition and choice and to lower costs for wireless consumers.

Later this spring, a re-elected Stephen Harper Government will announce

and begin implementing a Digital Economy Strategy, focused on five priorities:

  • building world-class digital infrastructure;
  • encouraging businesses to adopt digital technologies;
  • supporting digital skills development;
  • fostering the growth of Canadian companies supplying digital technologies to global markets; and
  • creating made-in-Canada content across all platforms, to bring Canada to the world.

To achieve these goals, among other specific actions we will:

  • support collaborative projects between colleges and small- and medium-sized businesses to accelerate the adoption of information and communications technologies;
  • promote enrolment in post-secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs; and
  • build Canada’s digital content through additional support for the Canada Media Fund.

Green Party Platform

Recognize that access to high-speed internet connections is now a critical aspect of infrastructure and work to expand access to address the “digital divide.”

Liberal Party Platform Broadband

Access to Broadband for All Canadians.

Liberals consider access to a high-speed broadband Internet connection essential infrastructure, just as the electricity grid and the telephone network were over a century ago. A Liberal government will publicly tender contracts for private companies to install broadband capacity for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians in rural, remote or northern areas who do not currently have access. To make those contracts economical for private investment, we will provide $500 million in support, allowing Canada to achieve basic high-speed Internet access for all Canadian households within three years. The source of that investment will be the next spectrum auction for wireless licensing rights.

An Open Internet. The Internet is today’s principal conduit for the free flow of ideas. To ensure it fosters the uninhibited exchange that innovation requires, Canada’s Internet environment must remain open. Internet traffic management must remain neutral, and maintain the open sharing of legitimate technologies, ideas and applications. A fair, effective wholesale regime is also essential to allow smaller Internet service providers to lease broadband infrastructure at fair prices.

Rural Broadband

Canada’s economy is increasingly knit together through the internet. As jobs, education, and communication become more dependent on the internet, Canadians without access or relevant skills will be left behind.

In 2006, Canada’s Telecommunications Review Panel recommended the federal government achieve 100 percent high-speed internet connectivity by 2010. This goal was not achieved under the Conservative government. According to the CRTC, in 2009 close to 800,000 Canadian households (20 percent of all rural Canadians) still could not access high-speed internet. Although Canada ranked second in the world in internet connectivity in 2000, we’ve now fallen to tenth place. This threatens our economic competitiveness and quality of life.

Using proceeds from the upcoming spectrum auction slated for 2012, a Liberal government will set a goal of 100 percent high-speed internet connectivity of at least 1.5 MB/sec for all Canadian communities within three years of being elected. This commitment will increase the availability of affordable line and wireless connectivity, and improve mobile phone coverage in rural areas.

NDP Platform Broadband

Ensuring all Canadians have access to broadband and a robust digital Economy

• We will apply the proceeds from the advanced wireless spectrum auction to ensure all Canadians, no matter they live, will have quality high-speed broadband internet access;

• We will expect the major internet carriers to contribute financially to this goal;

• We will rescind the 2006 Conservative industry-directive to the CRTC and direct the regulator to for the public interest, not just the major telecommunications companies;

• We will enshrine “net neutrality” in law, end price “net throttling,” with clear rules for Internet Service (ISPs), enforced by the CRTC;

• We will prohibit all forms of usage-based billing Internet Service Providers (ISPs);

• We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights.