Canada's first 4G network provides high-speed Internet access for rural Canadians

by Liam Britten

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.

Barrett Xplore Inc.
Woodstock, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Headquartered in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Barrett Xplore Inc. operates Xplornet Internet Services, Canada's largest rural broadband provider, with customers and dealers in every province and territory. Barrett Xplore Inc. aims to bridge the urban/rural digital divide by ensuring that every Canadian, regardless of where they live, has access to broadband, thereby enabling them to compete... more

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Liam Britten

Liam Britten

Liam Britten is a writer and editor with a journalism background operating out of Vancouver. In addition to his work at Techvibes, he has been published in student publications across Canada, as well as local newspapers such as The MapleRidge-Pitt Meadows TIMES and The Langley Advance. An aficionado for the finer things in life — such as video games and sports — Liam is plugged into the tech... more

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