Ice Wireless: We're Bringing LTE to Northwest Territories
With a feel much like the old tales of hunting gold in the Klondike, Ice Wireless, the smallest cellular provider in the Northwest Territories of Canada, has recently dropped information about plans to bring a new level of connectivity to the region. The path won't be easy, nor will the job be done soon, but Ice Wireless has one new tool in its toolbox to help get the job done: a new majority shareholder in the form of Iristel, Inc, that's bringing along some extra funding for a big expansion.
Ice Wireless' vice president of operations, Maged Bishara, described plans to upgrade Ice Wireless' current network, a 2G system limited to voice and text only, to a full voice and data 3G network sometime in the next three to four months. While this may sound underwhelming, Bishara went on to describe how, once 3G was in place, and offering up to 7.2 Mbps speeds under optimal conditions, it could very rapidly upgrade once again to a full LTE (News - Alert) setup.
All of which sounds great, except for the fact that Ice Wireless doesn't actually have the necessary AWS spectrum to run LTE. However, it does know where it can get that spectrum in the form of Wind Mobile's (News - Alert) parent company, Globalive Wireless Management, which bought a substantial amount of AWS spectrum in the region but hasn't actually put it to use yet. Considering that Globalive Wireless Management bought said spectrum in 2008, it's a safe bet that it’ll have some interest in selling.
Ice Wireless plans further inroads into Yukon and Ninavut alike, where residents believe--probably not unfairly, either--that they're paying inflated telecommunications prices. But improved competition will likely pull those prices down, as well as improved access overall to bandwidth in the region. Ice Wireless already offers a variety of service plans, including 2G service to remote locations like Yellowknife and Inuvik, and will be able to expand to Whitehorse and Hay River when the expansion is done, allowing them to more readily compete with major names like Telus Corp. and Bell Mobility.
Indeed, more competition generally lowers costs, and as infrastructure improvements are made, so too does the overall quality of service in the region, providing users with more services and better services at better prices. Just how rapidly--or how much effect--Ice Wireless can have on the wider overall market remains to be seen, but it's a safe bet that service is about to get a lot better for folks in the Northwest Territories pretty soon.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey