Canada, Australia and New Zealand Cellular Services use data sourced from ISED (Canada), ACMA (Australia) and NZRSM (New Zealand). We manage the quality of this data by closely tracking site and channel counts, and apply corrections as needed.
Starting this month, we're tracking a third metric: Spectrum Used, which is the total bandwidth of all channels with unique transmit (TX) frequencies along the same horizontal azimuth. This metric appears more accurate than channel counts at representing the capacity of a wireless network, as it's less sensitive to the presence of duplicate channel records.
For an example, figure 1 shows a large spike of 221,056 Telus channels on March 2018. However, figure 2 remained flat on March 2018, suggesting this spike was caused by duplicate channel records present in the monthly SMS snapshot.
Table 1 shows how we calculate Spectrum Used. The six channels listed were taken verbatim from the SMS monthly snapshot of 2020-03-04. All have the same 130° horizontal azimuth. Channels are grouped by horizontal azimuth. For each group, channels with identical TX frequency range (# 2, 3, 5 & 6) are discarded, and channels with overlapping TX frequency range (# 4) have their overlapping portion removed. The result: six channels reported a total bandwidth of 90MHz, but Spectrum Used is only 22.5MHz (15MHz @ 2142.5 - 2157.5MHz and 7.5MHz @ 2157.5 - 2165.0MHz).
Table 2 shows the difference between reported and actual Spectrum Used, by carrier for March 2020. Telus' 32.9% is due to the presence of many duplicate channel records in the monthly SMS snapshot.
|Spectrum Used (GHz)|
The chaotic graphs in figures 1 - 6 and the over-reporting of spectrum in table 2 raise this question: is Spectrum Used a valid metric? To answer, examine figures 7 - 9, which are the equivalent graphs for Australia, a country of comparable size to Canada:
And figures 10 - 12 show the same for New Zealand:
Table 3 shows minimal over-reporting of Spectrum Used for all carriers in Australia and New Zealand:
|Spectrum Used (GHz)|
Figures 8 and 11 show steady and accurate growth of Spectrum Used across all carriers in Australia and New Zealand. And table 3 reports minimal over-reporting. It all lends credibility to our claim that Spectrum Used is a valid (and valuable) metric to measure the capacity and growth of a nation's wireless network. The chaos in figures 1 - 6 and over reporting in table 2 suggest data issues with Canada's SMS monthly snapshots, especially for Telus and Freedom.
This table shows the monthly growth of Telstra's 5G network across Australia, starting in May 2019:
|# Telstra 5G Sites|
You can see these 5G sites and more at Australia Cellular Services.
January's SMS snapshot contains 234 Rogers 5G sites of which all but 20 are missing from February's snapshot. The red line in the top-left graph below shows February's snapshot lost 584 Rogers sites, of which 214 are from their 5G network. We doubt Rogers is scaling back their nascent 5G network, so these lost sites are likely an error.
Meanwhile, Telus' channel and site counts remain unchanged from January, and Bell's site count increased from 7,172 to 7,234, along with small increases in channel counts across all cellular spectrum bands.
Rogers recently announced ...
... we're starting our rollout of Canada's first 5G network in downtown Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal
Like we did last year with Telstra in Australia, we are now tracking the growth of Rogers' 5G network across Canada:
Rogers 5G uses Block I (in green below) from the BRS (2500Mhz) Frequency Block Plan:
Rogers 5G uses the lower 20MHz of Block I, leaving its upper 5MHz Restricted Band (RB) unused. Block I uses Time Division Duplexing (TDD) to share one frequency for downlink (DL) and uplink (UL) transmissions. In contrast, paired spectrum blocks (in cyan above) use Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) which assigns different frequencies to DL / UL (eg. 2640 / 2520MHz).
TDD can operate statically or dynamically. Dynamic TDD adjusts the ratio of time slots assigned to DL and UL, as demand warrants. For example, people at a concert or a sporting event need more UL to push videos & audio recordings to social media; conversely, on the GO train, people need more DL to consume Netflix or podcasts. Dynamic TDD can handle either scenario. We do not know if Rogers 5G uses dynamic or static TDD; but for now — to meet the hype surrounding 5G — we'll assume dynamic TDD.
The growth of Rogers' 5G network is as follows:
|Rogers 5G Sites|
Air Canada Centre
Square One, SW corner
St. Lawrence Market
165 Grange Ave
330 Gerrard St E
York University, west side
The graphs below show cellular site counts for Canada's 20 most populous Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA), ordered by population (most populous first). They provide more detail than the site graphs we have published monthly since Jan 2019.
A CMA comprises one or more adjacent municipalities and townships that are closely integrated in some way. For example, the Toronto CMA consists of the city of Toronto along with Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Ajax, Milton and 15 other smaller townships. In contrast, the Halifax CMA consists of the municipality of Halifax by itself.
We can perform custom analysis of Canada's cellular & fixed wireless sites, channels & bandwidth capacity along other census geographies, from as small as the neighborhood to as large as the nation. Please contact us for more details.
Last month, Rogers added 92 sites across Ontario and 583 sites across Quebec, which you can see in the sudden rise of the red line in the top-left graph below. But, most of these sites are not new, but only a correction to the disappearance of a similar number of sites one year earlier.
In short, SMS snapshots from Dec 2018 to Nov 2019 do not accurately represent Rogers coverage across Quebec and Ontario.