It’s starting to heat up in Canadian wireless. Traditionally quieter during the summer season, national suppliers seem to want to take advantage of the tourist boom of the moment to attract new customers both in Canada and elsewhere on the continent.
It started in the spring with the provider Freedom Mobile, which took advantage of its passage under the aegis of Videotron to review its price list. Several less attractive packages have disappeared and others have appeared. This includes a $50 per month North American plan, which offers up to 40 gigabytes of downloadable data every month from both the US and Canada.
Roaming and monthly overage charges have been a major driver of revenue growth for Canadian wireless providers for years. By attacking this niche, with a fairly generous data plan that breaks down the Canada-US border, Freedom Mobile and Videotron want to score a big blow with the lucrative clientele of regular travelers, for business or pleasure.
The goal is always to have the best coverage possible.
Bell was quick to react. The supplier whose head office is in Montreal has signed an agreement with Air Canada to deploy its network even in the planes of the equally Montreal carrier. Passengers will be able to text for free using Air Canada’s wifi. Foreign travelers visiting the country will be offered a SIM card so they can connect to the Bell network as soon as they land on Canadian soil.
9.5 million potential customers
All this is nothing compared to the 30 million dollars invested in recent months in Montreal by Telus. The provider based in Vancouver hopes that the enhancement of its 5G network will attract at least some of the 9.5 million tourists expected in the Quebec metropolis during the summer.
These are some of the biggest events in Canada that take place at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, in the Old Port and in Parc Jean-Drapeau—in short, almost everywhere in Montreal—every summer. During these events, visitors brandish their cellphones, film and photograph what they see, and sometimes share their images live with friends or on social networks.
A lot of mobile data is exchanged over wireless networks. It’s important that networks resist this pressure, explains Nazim Benhadid, vice president responsible for building and operating networks at Telus. “Our investment ensures that all of these customers are well served, especially customers transferring large volumes of video data,” he told the Duty.
For example, on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve site alone, during the three days of the Grand Prix du Canada, Telus calculates that it has transported the equivalent of 10,000 films in high definition on its network. “It’s a large volume,” notes Mr. Benhadid.
A sign of the times, phone owners continue to shun traditional telephony and prefer to exchange digital content with loved ones. Each year, the demand for bandwidth increases by 20 to 25%, a trend that is not about to stop, continues the leader of Telus. “It’s a great technological challenge. In the Old Port, a very visited place, our strategy is to offer a combination of 5G, 4G and wifi spectra. »
Telus also says that it has created a wifi network with a radius of 3 km in the Old Port to offload part of the bandwidth consumed by visitors from here and elsewhere. “The goal is always to have the best possible coverage. »
Tourism and technology alliance
Wireless service providers have little choice but to invest in ever more robust networks. Consumers are asking for more, and more and more organizers of major tourist events are banking on their presence to offer outdoor digital experiences.
This is particularly the case of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which begins this Thursday, June 29. A wall of the Maison du Festival, located on Sainte-Catherine Street, on the edge of the Quartier des Spectacles, has been embellished with an augmented reality component accessible using a smartphone.
The digital experience brings the “Wall of Legends” to life. It offers eight interactive tables that combine sound and images reminiscent of great moments in Montreal jazz. This includes excerpts from the musical archives of personalities like Oscar Peterson, Leonard Cohen, Herbie Hancock.
Of course, all this is made possible thanks to wireless networks. And that’s just the beginning: virtual and augmented reality experiences will increase as events and festivals want to increase their number of visitors.
And since this number of visitors to a city like Montreal is in the millions each year, it requires a wireless infrastructure capable of accommodating all these people. An important business card for suppliers constantly looking for new subscribers.