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TELUS was recognized this year for its record download speeds over 4G LTE. Telecom Review spoke to Dr. Ibrahim Gedeon, CTO, TELUS about this milestone and discussed the importance of such an achievement at a time when speed and network quality are essential for business continuity.

In Opensignal’s latest report, TELUS’ average 4G LTE download speeds were recorded at a global high of 75.8 mbps. How did you manage to improve network speed in spite of the impact that COVID-19 has had on networks and data traffic?

We are quite honored to be recognized as having the fastest mobile network in the world. As you noted, U.K.-based Opensignal recognized TELUS as the 2020 global winner for download speed experience. Notably, our mobile network speeds outpace the network speeds of countries with fully deployed 5G. While I can’t share our secret sauce, I can say this is in large part thanks to the grit, innovation, resilience and collaboration of our incredible team. I am so fortunate to work with some of the best and brightest minds in the world. In the wake of COVID-19, their unwavering focus to deliver the most reliable experience for our customers was reinforced as Canadians depend on us to work, learn and connect with friends and family, wherever they live.

TELUS 5G is available in major urban areas. When will you expand the coverage to rural areas?

With TELUS, many Canadians living in rural areas already enjoy access to high network speed and availability that outperforms the overall average speeds of many other countries, including the U.S. In fact, if rural Canada were a country it would rank 12th in the world when it comes to download experience, that’s faster than Sweden, France, New Zealand and dozens more countries, according to Opensignal. In the coming years, we plan on expanding 5G coverage to cover an additional 3.5 million rural Canadians, leveraging 600 MHz and other spectrum bands. However, there are still several factors at play in our Canadian landscape when it comes to spectrum auction allocation and government policy that will influence our timelines and ability to provide services to rural Canadians.

Virtual healthcare has been gaining ground ever since COVID-19 started spreading. How is TELUS contributing to an efficient virtual healthcare experience during these difficult times?

As a healthcare solutions provider, TELUS was in a good position to quickly adapt to COVID-19.

Once the pandemic hit, it acted as an accelerator for our development work and helped our health care providers to engage with patients at home. Our governments responded by opening virtual care fee codes allowing doctors to bill for consultations that are not in-person and we quickly integrated virtual visit functionality into our electronic medical records (EMR) platforms. In a matter of weeks, we enabled 26,000 physicians across Canada to conduct secure virtual visits with their own roster of patients via our EMR virtual visit functionality. We also expanded several product offerings including our home health monitoring solution so that nurses and other healthcare providers can digitally monitor COVID-19 patients remotely, our Babylon by TELUS Health app was expanded availability to more than 25 million Canadians across several provinces, our Akira by TELUS Health solution, allowed 1million Canadians to virtually connect with a healthcare practitioner 24/7, 365 days a year to help alleviate strain on our clinics and hospitals, and our LivingWell Companion service, a 24/7 personal emergency response service gave families additional peace of mind if they couldn’t be with their loved ones. Beyond investing and expanding our technology solutions, TELUS also dedicated $150 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts, and repurposed more than half of our mobile health clinics powered by TELUS Health that typically deliver care to Canadians experiencing homelessness to serve as mobile COVID-19 assessments centers.

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