Bell and Telus Move to GSM HSPA

No more guessing if or when – Bell Canada and Telus have announced that they will be rolling out a joint nationwide HSPA network in Canada, to be completed by early 2010 in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia. There are estimates that the cost of the joint venture network is in the half billion dollar range, which isn’t surprising, given that nearly a billion has been spent on the EV-DO network.

The HSPA migration will serve as a jumping off platform to 4G LTE, which both Bell and Telus are committed to. The existing CDMA EV-DO network will remain and will be maintained by both Bell and Telus. There are no plans as of yet to discontinue that network.

I’m really looking forward to some major competition for Rogers, even without the need for another entrant into the wireless market in Canada.

Bell’s press release

Telus’ press release

Telus and Bell Sitting in a Tree

A move to GSM for the Telus and Bell cellular networks has been rumoured many times over the years, but the latest article from the Financial Post seems to be a bit more concrete than usual. According to the FP, Bell and Telus will announce a partnership to develop a 3G GSM network this week, dumping $1 billion over the next year to build it out. It’ll be a bold move on their parts, but one I think will benefit Telus especially. Even with the current CDMA network, Telus has been doing very well, adding a record number of subscribers in the most recent quarter. Just imagine what that will turn into with a more ‘open’ network and a wider selection of devices.

In my case, any more competition for Rogers is a good thing. They could certainly learn something from Telus’ great customer service. There’s nothing quite like waiting on hold for 45 minutes only to find out you were transferred to the wrong department…

Vista/Server 2008 Sound Stutters

If you have sound stuttering issues in Windows Vista or Server 2008 and use a Linksys WUSB300N USB wireless dongle, grab the latest drivers (1.0.5.1). They should solve the problem. This may also be an issue with other Marvell chipset wireless dongles, such as some Belkin wireless-N cards.

I recently ran into this problem on Windows Server 2008, which I acquired through my MSDN-AA membership with the Computer Science society of the IEEE. Windows Vista will prompt you to install new drivers through Windows Update; however the driver doesn’t exist in the Server 2008 update repository. Furthermore, Linksys’ Vista support page links the WUSB300N driver to the wrong file, so no luck there either.

Out of necessity, I got a bit creative, plugged the card into my laptop running Windows Vista and had the latest driver installed automatically. I then copied the driver inf from the Vista driverstore over to Server 2008 and manually installed the driver. Voilà, the sound stuttering is gone.

To save you the trouble (if you’re on Windows Server 2008), I’ve zipped up the setup configuration file for the Linksys WUSB300N for your downloading pleasure.

Linksys WUSB300N 1.0.5.1

Celullar Termination Fee Regulation in the States?

The head of the FCC wants a say on how much cellular carriers can charge their customers in early termination fees. I only wish the CRTC would do something like that here in Canada, where $100-400 is the going rate for a contract cancellation, not to mention the fact that 3 year contracts are also the norm. With players falling out of the spectrum auction to happen later this year, I’m really not too hopeful for a significant change in the face of Canadian cellular service.

Vista Hosed Thanks to Linksys WMP300N

A wireless card should never do this to a computer.

Vista hosed due to Linksys WMP300N

Furthermore, it shouldn’t mess a computer up so badly that even Windows repair or System Restore can’t fix it. But that’s exactly what a recently-purchased Linksys WMP300N wireless card did. In fact my desktop’s Vista installation is so far gone, I have no other choice than to perform a complete re-install. I’m using my laptop currently – I’ll get around to reinstalling Vista when the new computer parts I ordered get here, but that’s another story. (Remember the downsizing post a while ago?)

Following Linksys’ recommendation, I downloaded and installed the Windows Vista driver from their website and proceeded to install it before plugging in the wireless card. At the appropriate prompt, I shut down my desktop and installed the card. Attaching the three-wire antenna was painful enough – the plugs are the screw-type and are placed so closely together that only child fingers could easily screw them on easily. That was the easy part.

Booting the computer back up, I was greeted with the Windows is installing new hardware dialog, which I assumed was the correct behavior. A few moments later, the device drivers were correctly installed. Unfortunately, at this point, explorer.exe locked up. Furthermore, attempts to ctrl+alt+del led to the entire desktop background to fade, in Vista’s “I’m no longer responding to your actions” manner. With a completely frozen system, I had no choice but to push the reset button.  What a bad idea that was.

Long story short, my registry is corrupt and System Restore wasn’t able to complete. Meanwhile, I have a non-bootable machine, thanks to this Linksys WMP300N wireless card. Reading around on the web, I can see that I’m not the only one running into problems with this card on Windows Vista. Linksys, don’t plaster a Windows Vista compatible sticker on the box if it has this many problems! I don’t know how you even managed to get those Vista drivers approved. Where is your QA department? Seriously, I was happy I got a good deal on the card, but it was definitely not worth the pain I’ll have to go through to fix my computer.

Recommendation? Don’t buy the WMP300N if you’re running Windows Vista. Not until Linksys gets its act together in any case.