Canadian rural broadband company launches 5G standalone in New Brunswick, 250 community expansion planned for 2022
Xplornet Communications announced this week the launch of Canada’s first rural 5G standalone network. The Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) service goes online first in Xplornet’s home province of New Brunswick. The broadband provider plans to expand throughout the province over the next six months. Xplornet said it will expand its burgeoning 5G SA network to 250 additional communities in rural Canada throughout 2022.
Headquarted in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Xplornet is Canada’s largest rural-focused broadband service provider. The company provides services through a combination of satellite internet and LTE fixed wireless networks. Mobile service in Canada is dominated by Bell, Rogers and Telus, but Xplornet sees opportunity providing both broadband and 5G access to underserviced rural communities. In 2019, Xplornet announced a CDN$500 million, five-year program to expand its hybrid fiber and satellite network. In 2020, Xplornet agreed to be acquired by Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm. Last December Xplornet announced it had picked Ericsson as its radio partner for its 5G standalone play. This past July Xplornet was awarded 263 licenses for 3.5 GHz 5G spectrum in a Canadian government auction.
“Everyone at Xplornet is proud to be making the investments that will bring the benefits of 5G technology into the homes of families who live outside Canada’s big cities,” said Allison Lenehan, President and CEO of Xplornet Communications Inc.
Xplornet is not alone in seeing opportunity in rural Canada, however. Bell Canada and Casa Systems have teamed up on a fixed wireless access solution announced this past August intended for remote Canadian communities. Casa Systems’ hardware integrates a 5G sub-6 GHz modem and high-gain directional antennas. Bell Mobility announced the expansion of its 5G network to 23 new Canadian markets in May.