As governments race to authorize 5G wireless networks across the globe, Canada and New Zealand each took major steps today toward testing 5G technologies within their borders. Yet nationwide 5G service appears to remain years away for both countries, pending key government decisions.
In Canada, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains today announced ENCQOR, a “5G corridor” of wireless test beds located throughout Quebec and Ontario. According to CTV News, ENCQOR is a public-private collaboration between the governments of Canada, Quebec, and Ontario, working with Ericsson, Ciena Canada, Thales Canada, IBM Canada, and CGI. The digital corridor will be built later this year, and offer 5G access to approximately 1,000 small and medium-sized Canadian businesses starting in early 2019.
While the proposal and its CAD $400 million (U.S. $306 million) budget might sound substantial, they’re relatively limited by 5G network standards. Rather than offering the prospect of consumer 5G services, ENCQOR is designed primarily to facilitate research and technology collaborations between Canadian companies. Additionally, no Canadian mobile carrier is participating.
As we reported in February, Canadian carrier Telus has been testing fixed 5G services in Vancouver using hardware from Chinese equipment provider Huawei; Bell Canada has also reportedly tested 5G in rural parts of the country. But major Canadian cities such as Toronto have not yet been promised consumer 5G service, nor has the Canadian government allocated key radio spectra needed for 5G services.
It’s also noteworthy that Canada’s ENCQOR…