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    Will Rogers carry the iPhone? Here's another reason why they might.  
    Financial Post  
   

David George-Cosh

 
    October 16, 2007  
   

The road map to find the Canadian iPhone carrier may have gotten slightly easier to navigate on Tuesday.

Rogers Wireless, a subsidiary of Rogers Communications Inc., rolled out the next phase of its third-generation high speed wireless network. Previously available in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region, the Rogers Visions suite is now available in 25 markets across the country.

The new service operates on Rogers' new High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network, which the company says will have speeds comparable to broadband high-speed. Think streaming YouTube video clips on demand using your mobile device to get a picture of what this network actually means.

Couple that announcement with one from semiconductor firm Broadcom who said they became the first chipmaker to develop a single-chip for 3G phones. The new chip is able to handle traffic on EDGE (which the iPhone currently is currently operating on AT&T network), HSUPA, HSDPA, and WCDMA data protocols and is designed to "drive down cost, power and size, while enabling an advanced level of functionality."

Broadcom's announcement is important news because Apple Corp. has publicly said the only reason they haven't made the iPhone to carry 3G technology is due to the impact it would have on battery life. Broadcom's chip now solves that problem.

Finally, Forward Concepts analyst Will Strauss released a report last month that suggested that Apple is in works to develop a 3G iPhone by Christmas.

Does this mean that everything is now in place for Rogers to get the iPhone just in time for Christmas? Unfortunately not — but it may come sooner than you think.

Mr. Strauss added in an e-mail that an HSPA version of the iPhone should be shipped sometime in the first quarter of 2008, but could not say whether the new Rogers wireless network would be a good host for the iPhone.

"It's still unclear whether Apple will try to reach an agreement with Rogers to enable all of the services that go with it," Mr. Strauss said.

SeaBoard Group analyst Amit Kaminer says Rogers' network rollout definitely shows the company's intent to make sure the much-heralded device can smoothly transition onto the network, but there's no need to start lining up at your nearest Rogers retail store just yet.

"There's still issues with high [cost] data plans and the legal issues surrounding Comwave's iPhone trademarked name that still have to be cleared before the iPhone can come to Canada," said Mr. Kaminer.

The final word to piecing together the Canadian iPhone puzzle will go to Rogers spokeswoman Odette Coleman: "[The] iPhone is a phenomenal product, and we look forward to being able to offer it in Canada....[but] I honestly cannot tell you where Canada or Rogers is in Apple's queue in terms of specific marketing plans."

 


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