Thursday 26 June 2014

New Tbaytel Data Hub Available

Tbaytel has selected their replacement for the Rocket Hub. (See Where are the Rocket Hubs and Rocket Hub Update for the back story)

Their website identifies the Options Globesurfer III+ as the chosen successor.This appears to be a new entrant in the Canada  data hub market with MTS being the only other known user. 

Options Wireless Technology is a Belgium based company.  Details about the Globesurfer III+can be found on their website.

There  does not appear to be any changes in the Tbaytel flex plan rate. 

Monday 9 June 2014

Tbaytel Closing Down Its CDMA Service

Tbaytel has announced that it is closing down its CDMA service starting on 01 Jun 2014. This  action will also affect Bell and affiliated service providers as they use the Tbaytel CDMA network  to provide coverage in the affected areas.  

This action is part of the wrap-up of the CDMA technology across Canada. Telus announced previously that it started to shut down CDMA in March of this year. Bell has not commissioned any new CDMA sits for a number of years and announced they will phase out CDMA completely by 2017.  All new Bell sites are HSPA and/or LTE. 

This is the notification from the Tbaytel website:
"CDMA Mobility Network Decommissioning - Sunday, June 1st
On Sunday, June 1st Tbaytel will begin turning down select CDMA sites. As sites are turned down throughout the year, CDMA customers will begin to notice degradation of service. By December 2014, all CDMA sites will be shut down and Tbaytel will no longer offer CDMA service.  
As part of this end-of-life process, EVDO data services will be shut down on June 1st, 2014. Customers using EVDO data services will notice reduced data speed and will only have access to 1X data services.
CDMA customers can visit an Authorized Tbaytel Dealer to transition over to Tbaytel's 4G HSPA Network and enjoy the many benefits of 4G service." 

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Rocket Hub Update

This is an update on the blog entry "Where are the Rocket Hubs?".

Rogers advised Tbaytel on 28 May 2014 that they would no longer be marketing the Rocket Hubs (Netcomm data hubs) effective immediately.  It seems there was no advance warning of this action.

Whether or not Rogers offered Tbaytel a replacement hardware option or Tbaytel was wary of renewing a single source supply chain is unclear.  In any case, it appears Tbaytel will maintain a portable Internet choice and  is actively searching for a hardware replacement to the Rocket Hub.

As indicated in the previous blog entry, the Rogers LTE Rocket Mobile Hotspot - Sierra Wireless AirCard 763S currently offered by Rogers may very well serve as a data hub replacement from a technical point of view. There are options available for the basic model such as external antennas and docking router unit that allow the Mobile Hotspot to mimic most features of the Rocket Hub. The big shortcoming of the Mobile Hotspots is that they are not 700 MHz compatible. 

The outstanding question is whether or not the Flex Rate Plans for Hubs will be applicable to Mobile Hotspot models configured as a hub or will the Tablets, Mobile Hotspots & Sticks rate apply. This is significant as the Hub rate is $90.00 for 20 GB versus a Mobile Hotspot rate of $85.00 for 10 GB. Both plans charge $10 per GB for usage in excess of their maximum fixed rate.

More information about the Mobile Hotspot can be found at the following sites:

Monday 2 June 2014

Where are the Rocket Hubs?

There is something strange going on with the Rocket Hub on the Rogers and Tbaytel websites - it has disappeared! There is no longer a picture or technical information about the data hub hardware on either site.

On the Rogers mobile Internet page there is an icon for "Hub" as one of the four devices for mobile Internet. When you click on "View all" pricing information comes up. If you follow this by clicking the "Get started" button, the following message comes up:   

"Unfortunately, the phone you are looking for is not available for purchase on"

Rogers is still listing two Flex Rate plan options for hubs on their mobile rate plan page.   

On the Tbaytel portable Internet page there is no mention of the Rocket Hub in the body of the page. The fine print at the bottom of the page refers to "Rocket Hub." The page lists details of a Data Flex plan for the "Rocket Stick" but there is no indication as to whether to not the plan applies to a Rocket Hub.

Neither the Rogers nor the Tbaytel site give any indication why they removed the Rocket Hub information or what the impact would be on existing or future customers.

A quick check confirmed that current data hub users are not experiencing any issues with their service at this time  except for the usual congestion. 

The lost of the data hub service without an equivalent replacement would have a major negative impact on the broadband (high-speed Internet) service in rural and remote areas of the Algoma District.

As of today, 02 Jun 2014, the alternative to the data hub is the Rogers Mobile Hotspot or Rocket Stick both of which are more expensive and do not offer a telephone option. Tbaytel offer the same Rocket Stick but at a slightly better Data flex plan price.