Barrett Xplore’s Xplornet brand has taken the title for first 4G network in Canada, using it not for cell phones, but for rural Internet access for Canadians.
Last Tuesday, Barrett activated its 4G wireless network in Quebec, in the 8,500 square kilometre area from Bas St. Laurent to the New Brunswick border. The network is Barrett’s first step in their plans to provide coverage to the entirety of rural Canada by 2012.
To make the lofty goal of providing access for 2.4 million people living in the hinterland of the world’s second biggest country a reality, Barrett will be doubling their number of broadcast towers from 600 to 1,200 all told, and will also be launching two new communications satellites into space: Viasat-1 in 2011, and Hughes-Jupiter - in early 2012.
As the Montreal Gazette reports, this 4G network will be a big improvement over the 3G service currently offered to rural Canadians. Although this service will allow far higher speeds (40–100 megabits per second, compared to the one to five megabits that 3G allows), it is a little pricey — $45–80 monthly for subscribers, plus around $99 for necessary receiver equipment.
But, for rural Internet users, it’s a start. Until the federal government gets their act together and makes some kind of investment into the necessary infrastructure, this will probably be the best they can expect. Right now, I could see the price being quite problematic for rural families, so hopefully Barrett comes up against some competition soon to lower the prices.
You can check out Xplornet here.