Rogers to sell USB sticks that can double LTE speeds

When two of the country’s biggest cellular carriers started their high speed LTE data service last year, it was a bit disappointing to some that the devices they offered promised network speeds of only up to 25 megabits a second.

Admittedly, that’s about double the promised speed of the previous generation HSPA+ devices of Rogers Communications Inc. and Bell Mobility, but significantly less than the touted 100 Mpbs-plus LTE is supposed to deliver.

But on Monday, Rogers announced that in a few weeks it will sell a USB stick and a mobile hotspot capable of scooting along at 40 Mbps – under ideal conditions.

“It was fast before,” Reade Barber, Rogers’ senior director of data product management said in an interview. “Now it’s really fast.”
The difference, he said, is that the new devices can run on spectrum Rogers shares with Bell in the 2.6 GHz range, and more capacity has been set aside for LTE devices.

That spectrum was originally for serving non-urban areas of the country under a plan called Inukshuk. However, Rogers and Bell are using it for LTE. The partners have been loading up Inukshuk spectrum for some time in the expectation that device manufacturers would have handsets and modems to run on it.

The two new devices are the Sierra Wireless AirCard 330U USB modem and the AirCard 763S mobile hotspot. Both can also default to Rogers’ 1700/2100 AWS spectrum if needed.

The devices will be sold in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver, where Rogers has LTE coverage. It says LTE will be extended to 25 more cities by the end of the year covering half of the country’s population. Right now 11 million people can reach the LTE network, the carrier said.

Rogers also sells other LTE-enabled handsets and USB sticks, although the only achieve up to 25 Mbps under ideal conditions.

Set to join that group of devices is the Samsung Galaxy Note, a smart phone with a 5.3-inch touchscreen that can also be used with a stylus. Barber said it will appeal to those who want to write notes by hand.

It will be powered by a 1.5 GHz dual core processor and runs Android 2.3. Pricing was not announced.

But Rogers did say that it is extending its HSPA+ mobile Internet plans to its LTE devices, including its Flex Rate plan. Pricing for Rocket sticks and mobile hotspots start at $22.93 a month, while the Flex Rate plans for its Samsung Galaxy LTE tablet starts at $7.93 a month.

An introductory LTE plan for $52.93 for 10 GB of data a month on a three year term continues.

Barber wouldn’t divulge LTE subscription rates, other than to say the carrier is seeing “good pickup and response.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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