Since its initial Alberta rollout in 1985 with two carriers (AGT Mobility & Cantel) using an analogue-based system, the cell phone industry has evolved and grown into a product and service that have become almost essential to our everyday lives. Now, 34+ years later we have multiple carriers offering various services marketed towards key consumer segments. There are a number of carriers that build and maintain physical networks; Bell, Rogers, Telus, Freedom, Mobilicity, although there are many brand names reselling services on those networks (see table below). The table below also outlines the technology breakdown of the carriers and their physical networks.

CARRIER
(in Alberta)
NETWORK
VOICE
Frequency Bands (MHz)
DATA
Frequency Bands (MHz)

HSPA1,5
850 & 1900
850 & 1900

LTE8
none, VoLTE4 only
(600), 700, 850, 1900, 1700/2100,
(23003), 2600, (35006)
5G
none, VoLTE4 only (600), 1700/2100, 2600, (35006)

HSPA1,5
850 & 1900
850 & 1900

LTE8
none, VoLTE4 only
700, 850, 1900, 1700/2100, 2600, (35006)
5G
none, VoLTE4 only 1700/2100

GSM5 & HSPA5
850 & 1900
850 & 1900
LTE8
none, VoLTE4 only
(600), 700, 850, 1900, 1700/2100,
2600, (35006)
5G
none, VoLTE4 only (600), 1700/2100, 2600, (35006)

LTE8
1700/2100
600 & 1700/2100

LTE8
1700/2100
1700/2100
1 this is a joint-venture network shared between Telus & Bell
3 not used anymore
4 Voice over LTE, same as VOIP technology, phone must be capable and feature activated on account, may also include Wi-Fi calling
5 both 850 MHz & 1900 MHz are used as needed for voice and/or data now
6 future use, not auctioned by Industry Canada yet
8 LTE is a high speed data network only, most, but not all phones have VOIP-like VoLTE voice calling capabilities

Carrier discount sub-brands
Telus - Koodo Mobile, Public Mobile
Bell - Solo Mobile, Lucky Mobile, Virgin Mobile, PC Choice Mobile
Rogers - Fido, Chatr, SpeakOut

Voice Band includes: voice calls, standard text messaging, and voicemail notification
Data Band includes: multimedia text messaging, email, and web browsing

The frequency assignments (aka channels) in a given frequency band are unique to each carrier.

There are a number of carrier towers throughout the city, province, and country.

Some towers are exclusive to a specific carrier and others are shared by multiple carriers.

Tower height is very important in that a shorter tower will more likely be affected by terrain and obstructions.
Cellular signals will not penetrate or go over hills or metal structures.
(see coverage plot pictures in "getting started")

Antenna placement on a given tower is generally one of two configuration types.
The most common type is three antennas placed 120 degrees apart with the first pointing roughly north.
The second type is two antennas 180 degrees apart pointing along a road and/or through a valley.


Frequency Band (MHz)
Band Name
LTE Band
max data speed (meg)
600
RRBS - Remote Rural Broadband System
71
20
700
MBS - Mobile Broadband Service
12, 13
20
850
Cell - Cellular
5
20
1900
PCS - Personal Communication Service
2
120
1700/2100
AWS - Advanced Wireless Service
4
120
2300
WCS - Wireless Communications Service
30
120
2600
BRS - Broadband Radio Service
7
120
3500
CBRS or FWA 1

240?
1 - Consumer/Cellular broadband Radio Service or Fixed Wireless Access,
I've seen it listed all these ways, not sure yet what they'll actually call it (although ISED, aka Industry Canada, is favouring FWA)



One huge misconception about LTE and data speeds is that they will be super fast. Yes, they can be, and the carriers try to achieve that, but the reality is that the LTE data speed at any given time is determined by a number of variable parameters. Of the top three factors; the first is the frequency band you are on, second is how good the signal is, and third is network congestion.

This graph shows the real-world LTE data speed by band vs signal strength.



And! Is your Telus iphone missing calls? Follow this link for an explanation and solutions . . .

Also! Follow this link for my 5G primer . . .