Saturday 12 July 2014

Impact of CDMA Close Out in North Sault Area

In my blog entry of 09 Jun 2014, I reported on the Tbaytel plans to close down their CDMA (2G) service and the impact this might have. As noted in the post, Bell CDMA will also be affected as they are in effect piggy-backing on the Tbaytel network. When the Tbaytel CDMA network closes down, the associated Bell CDMA service will also disappear.

Bell (and Tbaytel) CDMA customers have two options available to them - cancel service altogether or upgrade to the HSPA+ service provided by one of the two carriers. The latter will require the user getting a new handset capable of processing the HSPA+ signal. Because the need to upgrade is caused by the vendor ‘s actions, one might, and I emphasis might, be able to negotiate some kind of special price deal.

Both Bell and Tbaytel offer the HSPA+ service in the North Sault area from the Sault city limits to the Pancake Bay area. 

Bell uses Bell owned towers and cell sites to provide their HSPA+ service.  They are no longer reliance on the Tbaytel network.  This means that a Bell CDMA user who switches to Bell HSPA+ will be receiving their signal from a different physical location. In some locations, the Bell and Tbaytel towers are located near each other. This is the case at Heyden and Goulais while at other places only one or the other is located such as Tbaytel at Batchawana (Jones Landing) and Bell at Hwy 17/Hwy 563 intersection.

Another big difference is the frequency used to provide the service. The old Bell and Tbaytel CDMA service operated in the 850 MHz band and the Tbaytel HSPA+ continues to operate in this band.  The Bell HSPA+ operates in the 1900 MHz band. Generally speaking, the 850 MHz signal can travel farther and penetrate obstructions such as foliage and buildings better than the 1900 MHz signal. On the other hand, the 1900 MHz signal can handle more traffic at higher speeds than the 850 MHz signal.  Bell has tried to address the range issue by installing more towers than Tbaytel.

What this means is some customers who previously had good quality CDMA cellular phone service may not be able to get an equivalent quality of service using HSPA+ using the basic handset. (Remember, a CDMA handset will not work on the HSPA+ network nor will a Bell HSPA+ handset work on the Tbaytel HSPA+ network.) 

There is technology available through third party vendors that can boost and improve the signal within a designated area.