Bell Launches HSPA+ 4G Network, iPhone-Based Calling Plans
Canadian wireless carrier Bell today launched its HSPA+ network and its first devices, including the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G. The network supports up to 21Mbps downstream on the Novatel Wireless U998 ($75) and future modems that support HSPA+ and should also supply as much as 7.2Mbps for the iPhone 3GS and other current smartphones.
The Apple handsets are being given three-year contract prices at the same $100 (8GB), $200 (16GB) and $300 (32GB) as their Rogers counterparts but come with a new set of Combo iPhone plans that are on average priced below Rogers in return for reduced usage. A base Combo 45 iPhone plan at its namesake $45 includes 150 minutes, unlimited local calling and messaging to five numbers, unlimited evenings and weekends from 9PM and 500MB of data. Updating to a Combo 55 plan jumps users to 300 minutes and 1GB of data while Combo 75 and 95 plans have 2GB of data each as well as 400 minutes and 500 minutes respectively.
Notably, Bell has described all data as intended for “personal email” and “Internet browsing” but doesn’t clarify whether it includes third-party apps. A spokesperson hasn’t yet had an opportunity to comment.
In addition to the iPhone and Novatel launches, multiple smartphones are also now on sale that explictly use the new network.
The Samsung Omnia II is among the first of these devices and is the first North American version of the Windows Mobile 6.5 touchscreen device. The unit resembles the original international version with a 3.7″ AMOLED display, 7.2Mbps 3G, GPS and Wi-Fi as well as 16GB of internal memory and a microSDHC slot. It sells for $200 on contract.
Bell has also preempted its US neighbors by carrying the BlackBerry Bold 9700; which uses the same 3.2-megapixel camera, 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi and BlackBerry OS 5 as the stock version and should cost $230 on contract. Unusually, the Canadian provider is also supplying the original BlackBerry Bold for a higher $250 price.
A handful of conventional phones are available and are highlighted by the Samsung Impact, a touchscreen phone with a 3-megapixel camera that sells for $80, as well as the LG Xenon, whose touchscreen QWERTY slider design is identical to the Rogers model and costs $90 on contract.
Telus has said it plans to launch its own network, which will include the iPhone and BlackBerry Bold 9700, as of November 5th.