Look Communications Inc. and majority owner Unique Broadband Systems Inc. plan to deploy a mobile wireless network between Windsor ON and Quebec City offering mobile services to consumers along the busy highway corridor. Trials are scheduled to begin in Toronto in the first calendar quarter of next year with mobile video handsets to be rolled out to the marketplace late in 2005 and early in 2006. UBS chair and CEO Gerald McGoey explains that the companies will be using Look’s 100 MHz of MDS spectrum and that it is very well suited for this type of application. "It’s the only spectrum in Canada with the bandwidth in order to do this mobile (service)," he says. Similar trials are taking place in the United States, says McGoey, but he isn’t at liberty to reveal more details because the trials have not yet been announced. "…we are assisting with the technology that they’re using. UBS is providing some of the technology being used by some of the trials that are going on in the United States, and we’re going to take that same knowledge base and use it with the Look spectrum here in Canada," he tells Report on Wireless. The service will offer 80 channels of video and more than 100 channels of audio that for the most part will come from Look’s existing programming lineup. "The content that’s provided to our fixed customer base will also be provided to our mobile customer base. However, we believe there will be new programming developed that will be quite unique because it’s on a mobile device, (content) that is more valuable, traffic reports, weather reports, cameras on highways, many things that in a mobile environment have much more value and use than they do in a fixed environment," McGoey explains. The UBS technology and network deployment know-how is already well-established in this area. The company has commercial network deployment experience having built a similar mobile video network in Singapore two years ago. The network is a live mobile video network that transmits to 2,000 of the city’s public transportation buses. McGoey says the network will be built out in three stages. The first phase will be to deploy the network in the Greater Toronto Area and greater Montreal, followed by connecting the two cities, and finally expanding the network from Toronto to Windsor and Montreal to Quebec City. The deployment of the mobile broadband network will be an integral component of the "new-look" Look, explains McGoey. "We’re developing a mobile video broadband network, and video services should be considered one of our first services and the most logical one," he says, adding that Look will become a mobile video broadband network provider in Ontario and Quebec. The service will be offered over mobile wireless handheld devices, a number of which are currently in various stages of development. McGoey explains that the devices, which will be about the same size as a PDA, will have multiple capabilities. Not only will they be able to receive real-time TV-quality signals, they will also be able to store hours of movies, and will be two-way Internet interactive devices. "Instead of receiving a web page statically, what you can receive on your PC at home you’ll be able to receive in your hand," he says. Despite Look’s and UBS’ plans to move forward with the trials and commercial deployment next year, all that could go up in smoke if Industry Canada adopts a band plan that doesn’t protect incumbent licensees’ rights. The department undertook a review of the MCS and MDS bands earlier this year (DGTP-004-04) with the goal of determining whether it should harmonize the band plan with the United States. The fixed wireless operators such as Look and Inukshuk Internet Inc. found themselves on opposite sides of the table from the mobile wireless operators in that process. The fixed wireless players want guarantees that they will be able to continue to operate in the band, while the mobile carriers want Industry Canada to reclaim the frequencies and auction them to the highest bidder. An Industry Canada official says that the big issue is incumbents’ rights and how to treat incumbents in the band. A decision from the department on the future of the MCS and MDS bands is expected to be rendered in mid-summer 2005, according to Industry Canada officials.