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French said Telus will follow whatever course Ottawa sets, but he said the company isn’t slowing down in the meantime.
“We’ll continue to assess, and we will look at opportunities if that arises, but at the moment we’re going to continue to build our networks as we lead in the world on our 4G network,” French said.
“We’re going to continue to comply with whatever government rule comes out in the timeframe, but at this stage, we think our 4G and LTEa networks will be faster.”
French said that the plan right now is to use Huawei gear in the radio access network (RAN) — basically, the antennas that send wireless signals to the phones — but it will not be the backbone of the Telus 5G network for now.
“In the RAN network, we will be launching a 5G network with Huawei,” French said.
Telus wouldn’t give an exact date on when they will roll out their 5G, but French said it will be coming “shortly.”
He said that since 5G and 4G components are interoperable, it’s natural that the 5G system will use gear from the 4G network. Telus already uses a significant amount of Huawei gear in its current wireless network.
French downplayed the significance of 5G this year, because the federal government hasn’t auctioned off key 3.5 GHz wireless spectrum. Nor have the rules of that auction been set.
French said the Telus 4G LTE-Advanced network is solid, until the new spectrum allows for additional benefits.
“Any launch that goes in 2020 is not going to have 3.5 spectrum, and those auction rules are going to be announced shortly and we don’t expect to have the actual spectrum until at least Q4 — i.e. a full rollout in 2021 for 3.5,” French said.