4G LTE is finally coming to WIND Mobile, bringing with it increased broadband capacity and significantly superior speeds. Currently, the carrier does claim to offer “4G” on its website, but this is delivered by HSPA+ technology, which is traditionally referred to as 3G in most areas of the world, and cannot compete with LTE when it comes to getting data into the palm of your hand.
So far the LTE network is still in its early stages. Back in December, WIND secured a debt agreement with a syndicate of banks, as well as a partnership with Nokia Corporation, which will be the sole provider of WIND’s new, shiny LTE technology grid. Since then, not much more has been heard out of Canada's number 4 carrier. Right now a few industry guesses seem to indicate some time in 2017, although that sounds like a pretty short period between the planning and product stages.
WIND's own website displays the original Dec 2015 announcement, since which the only network upgrade notice has been improvements to the WIND HSPA+ grid in Vancouver.
What does this mean for me?
4G LTE is significantly faster than the HSPA+ technology that WIND is currently employing for mobile internet service. Depending on the method of implementation, real-world LTE speeds can vary wildly, but generally users tend to see upwards of 30Mbps (about 5x faster or more than your average HSPA+ speeds).
More importantly, this means larger capacity for the WIND network. Less chance of dropping out, and fewer lag spikes during peak hours.
The network that Nokia is building for WIND is also going to be constructed with voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over WiFi (VoWi-Fi) in mind.
VoLTE is a high-definition voice call that uses LTE towers instead of 3G or 4G. Call quality is better, and there’s some pretty impressive background noise cancellation to boot. Generally, VoLTE customers can only make a VoLTE call to another person on the same network, but the network itself automatically makes the decision whether to connect you as VoLTE, or make it a regular call. All you have to do is dial like normal.
VoWi-Fi is the same as VoLTE, but it uses your active WiFi connection instead of 2G, 3G or LTE. Call quality can be enhanced, but for best results both people need to be on a WiFi network and have VoWi-Fi support.
What does this mean for WIND?
WIND is already Canada’s 4th largest mobile carrier. That being said, it’s a pretty big gap between the top 3 spots and ol’ number 4. That gap has a good chance of shortening significantly, once this new network is fully operational.
One of the biggest barriers for signing up to WIND right now is its lack of 4G LTE. Heavy-duty users prefer faster speeds, which are generally required if you want to stream music, or watch YouTube at a decent resolution. It’s also much better for uploading photos, or even refreshing social media platforms.
The other hurdle is a perceived lack of coverage, even in city centres. By creating a new LTE network, WIND increases its capacity within those areas, allowing for more users to be online at any one time without affecting connectivity.
By removing these two problems, WIND is putting itself in a position to seriously contend with the big 3: Rogers, TELUS, and Bell.
When, where, how do I get it?
So far WIND hasn’t laid out any time frames, or a list of what areas will get the new network towers first. It’s unlikely to be any time soon, expect to wait at least a year or more before the first WIND LTE spots go live, and a lot longer for nation-wide coverage.
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