Bell Canada deployed a commercial 5G service in five of the country’s largest cities a little more than a month after putting the move on hold due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Coverage is available in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and the greater Toronto area, with free access being offered until end-March 2021, after which it will be available as a $10 per month add-on to any post-paid tariff.

Bell Mobility president Claire Gillies claimed the operator had “once again raised the bar in Canadian wireless”, with the footprint of its network “six-times greater than the next largest network”, an apparent swipe at rival Rogers Communication which launched its 5G service in four cities in March.

Telus, the third major operator in the country, is yet to launch 5G.

In May, Bell Canada CEO Mirko Bibic said the timing for a launch was not right due to the pandemic, despite the network being ready.

Bell Canada separately announced it would invest $2.7 million to open a new 5G research centre with Western University, employing AR/VR, edge computing and AI to develop new applications for healthcare, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and other verticals.