Seeking to get out of the gate quickly with its new gigabit product, Bell Canada has introduced the service to 1.3 million homes in Ontario and Quebec, the nation's two biggest provinces.
BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), the nation's largest telco and broadband provider, announced Tuesday that it has rolled out gigabit service throughout the two provinces. The Gigabit Fibe deployment, which leverages Bell's new fiber-rich network, covers parts of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, the four biggest cites in the two regions.
The Gigabit Fibe initiative, which Bell unveiled with much fanfare in late June, is the first major gigabit service launch in Canada. The plan is to extend the service to another 900,000 Canadian homes by the end of the year, including 250,000 more homes in Quebec and another 650,000 households in the Atlantic provinces.
New subscribers pay about C$150 a month ($114.27) for Gigabit Fibe. Current Bell Fibe subscribers can upgrade to the gigabit product for as little as $10 a month if they take a full bundle of services.
Gigabit Fibe is initially delivering maximum speeds of 940 Mbit/s to subscribers. Bell Canada said it will boost speeds to a full 1 Gbit/s or faster sometime next year "as modem equipment suppliers catch up to gigabit speeds." Previously, Bell Fibe service topped out at 175 Mbit/s over its fiber lines. (See Bell Canada Unveils Big Gig Plans .)
The move by Bell Canada, which now has about 3.3 million high-speed data subscribers, will put heavy pressure on its main rival, Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), to boost speeds too. Rogers, one of the two largest cable operators in Canada with about 2 million broadband subscribers in the eastern half of the country, now offers top download speeds of 250 Mbit/s over its hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) lines for a lower price than Bell charges for its highest tier. But now Bell is offering maximum speeds nearly four times higher than Rogers.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading