The Toronto Star is reporting that, according to one source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified, Telus Corp. executives are considering switching their network from CDMA over to GSM wireless technology. Such a move would give Telus two advantages. First, GSM is more widely used than CDMA and it would allow Telus to offer a wider variety of devices more cheaply. Second, it would allow it to collect roaming fees from international travelers. Today, Rogers Wireless is the only national carrier to use GSM, allowing it to take advantage of both of these as it competes against CDMA-based Telus and Bell Mobility.
The move would not be without risk though. The move could cost about CAD$500 million (and perhaps as much as a $CAD1 billion) and take up to 2 years. Telus would also need to reach a roaming agreement with Rogers to cover certain areas of Canada or have to build out its network (at additional cost) to cover off those coverage gaps (Today, Telus and Bell share wireless networks).
The decision will hinge, at least in part, on when Telus decides to deploy a 4G network. The closer this deployment, the less it sense it makes to switch first to GSM and then to 4G. The forthcoming wireless auction may also influence Telus’ decision.