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Tuesday, 2020-Mar-31 — Spectrum Used

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.

Figure 1: Channel Counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell
Graph of Canadian channel counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 2: Spectrum Used (GigaHertz) for Rogers, Telus, Bell
Graph of Canadian spectrum capacity for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 3: Site Counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell
Graph of Canadian site counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 4: Channel Counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink
Graph of Canadian channel counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Oct 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 5: Spectrum Used (GigaHertz) for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink
Graph of Canadian spectrum capacity for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 6: Site Counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink
Graph of Canadian site counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Oct 2017 to Mar 2020

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 1: Telus Site @ 49.277, -123.112 (BCE Place)
 Ant.HorizTxTxBandwidth (MHz)
#HeightAzimuthLowHighReportedUsed
161m130°2142.52157.515.015.0
261m130°2142.52157.515.0 
365m130°2142.52157.515.0 
461m130°2150.02165.015.07.5
561m130°2150.02165.015.0 
665m130°2150.02165.015.0 
TOTAL:90.022.5

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.

Table 2: Spectrum Over-reporting for Canada
 Spectrum Used (GHz) 
CarrierReportedActualDifferencePercent
Rogers1,057.81,048.98.860.8%
Telus2,233.01,498.8734.1432.9%
Bell1,006.8983.723.182.3%
Freedom169.7169.30.480.3%
Videotron70.865.15.718.1%
SaskTel53.052.90.080.2%
Eastlink29.327.02.317.9%

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:

Figure 7: Channel Counts for Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
Graph of Australian channel counts for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 8: Spectrum Used (GigaHertz) for Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
Graph of Australian spectrum capacity for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 9: Site Counts for Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
Graph of Australian site counts for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020

And figures 10 - 12 show the same for New Zealand:

Figure 10: Channel Counts for Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees
Graph of New Zealand channel counts for Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 11: Spectrum Used (GigaHertz) for Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees
Graph of New Zealand spectrum capacity for Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020
Figure 12: Site Counts for Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees
Graph of New Zealand site counts for Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees from Jan 2017 to Mar 2020

Table 3 shows minimal over-reporting of Spectrum Used for all carriers in Australia and New Zealand:

Table 3: Spectrum Over-reporting For Australia / New Zealand
  Spectrum Used (GHz)
CountryCarrierReportedActualDifferencePercent
AUTelstra1,839.71,744.495.365.2%
AUOptus2,339.02,301.037.951.6%
AUVodafone877.6818.958.706.7%
NZVodafone113.9113.60.270.2%
NZSpark129.0128.80.200.2%
NZ2degrees55.755.60.070.1%

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.

We monitor SMS snapshots and supplement with proprietary and 3rd party data so that Canada Cellular Services provides the most accurate representation available of Canada's wireless landscape.

Friday, 2020-Mar-27 — Australia 5G — Telstra 1,579, Optus 1,101, Vodafone 86 Sites

This table shows the monthly growth of Telstra's 5G network across Australia, starting in May 2019:

 # Telstra 5G Sites
LocationMay-19Jun-19Jul-19Aug-19Sep-19Oct-19Nov-19Dec-19Jan-20Feb-20Mar-20
Adelaide464747 47 57 60 67 73 73118118
Brisbane636565115121130131139139172181
Canberra383838 38 41 44 45 48 48 48 48
Gold Coast545555 62 66 72 72 71 71 83 83
Hobart161818 21 34 35 36 36 36 36 36
Launceston 7 9 9 9 10 10 11 11 11 11 11
Melbourne525252 52 95200370387409435481
Perth434444 49 67 70 85 92 92106106
Sydney647175 75 85138238256270300347
Toowoomba 252525 25 26 26 26 26 26 26 26
Other - - - 35 73112133139139140142
TOTAL4084244285286758971,2141,2781,3141,4751,579

You can see these 5G sites and more at Australia Cellular Services.

Wednesday, 2020-Feb-05 — February SMS Snapshot — Rogers 5G Disappeared

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.

Graph of site counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Mar 2018 to Feb 2020 Graph of channel counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Mar 2018 to Feb 2020 Graph of site counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Mar 2018 to Feb 2020 Graph of channel counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Mar 2018 to Feb 2020

We monitor SMS snapshots and supplement with proprietary and 3rd party data so that Canada Cellular Services provides the most accurate representation available of Canada's wireless landscape.

Monday, 2020-Feb-03 — Rogers 5G Network

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 sites in Downtown Vancouver
Graph of Rogers 5G sites in Downtown Vancouver
Rogers 5G sites in Downtown Toronto
Graph of Rogers 5G sites in Downtown Toronto

Rogers 5G uses Block I (in green below) from the BRS (2500Mhz) Frequency Block Plan:

BRS Frequency blocks in the 2500MHz band, including Block I which Rogers uses for 5G

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
DateTotalOntarioBC
2018-AUG3 Rogers Centre
Air Canada Centre
FirstOntario Centre
0
2019-JUN5 add:
Yonge-Dundas Square
Square One, SW corner
0
2019-AUG10 add:
St. Lawrence Market
Distillery District
165 Grange Ave
330 Gerrard St E
York University, west side
0
2019-NOV1448559
2019-DEC23414688

Friday, 2020-Jan-10 — State of the Nation (Canada)

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.

Toronto cell site counts Montreal cell site counts Vancouver cell site counts Calgary cell site counts Ottawa cell site counts Edmonton cell site counts Quebec (city) cell site counts Winnipeg cell site counts Hamilton cell site counts Kitchener - Cambridge - Waterloo cell site counts London cell site counts St. Catherines - Niagara cell site counts Halifax cell site counts Oshawa cell site counts Victoria cell site counts Windsor cell site counts Saskatoon cell site counts Regina cell site counts Sherbrooke cell site counts St. John's cell site counts

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.

Monday, 2020-Jan-06 — January SMS Snapshot Corrects Rogers Coverage

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.

Graph of site counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Feb 2018 to Jan 2020 Graph of channel counts for Rogers, Telus, Bell from Feb 2018 to Jan 2020 Graph of site counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Feb 2018 to Jan 2020 Graph of channel counts for Freedom, Videotron, SaskTel, Eastlink from Feb 2018 to Jan 2020

We monitor SMS snapshots and supplement with proprietary and 3rd party data so that Canada Cellular Services provides the most accurate representation available of Canada's wireless landscape.


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