Canadian start-up operator Globalive – backed by Egypt’s Orascom – yesterday switched on its HSPA network as it aims to challenge Canada’s incumbent mobile operators. The operator – the country’s newest in over a decade – has activated services in Toronto and will launch in Calgary by the end of this week. The company will be rolling out in Vancouver, Ottawa and Edmonton in the new year, and has signed roaming agreements with rival operators for when customers move outside of its initial coverage areas.

Globalive paid CAD442 million (US$415 million) last year to acquire airwave licenses and is trading under the Wind Mobile brand in Canada. Its entry sees it challenge established operators Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility and Telus. The three incumbents currently control around 95 percent of Canada’s mobile market. Efforts to differentiate itself include no activation fees, no contracts on any services, no penalties for changing or cancelling a plan, and unlimited Wind to Wind calls across the country. Its marketing states that it wants to “create a better mobile experience for everyone” in Canada. Launch of the network follows a battle to prove that the operator adheres to domestic ownership rules. The company’s official press release on the launch appeared to hit out at that development, stating “Wind is Canada’s company. Built by Canadians, for Canadians.”