Archive for May, 2009

4G networks + net-enabled-device = death of traditional cell phones

Friday, May 1st, 2009
verizon
Verizon LTE: 50 Mbps

On this week’s MacBreak they talked abour the much-rumoured Apple tablet (iPadd?).
But then they mentioned something I haven’t been keeping track of very much:
the next generation of wireless internet technology: 4G.

It’s fast.
Like 50 Mbps fast.
Theoretically 100 Mbps/50 Mbps down/up.
That’s pretty frickin’ fast.

Verizon is calling it “LTE” for “Long Term Evolution”,
and the rumours have Apple and Verizon talking about using LTE in the tablet.

Huh.

That got me thinking about how Rogers and Bell up here in Canada
really could use a good kick in the pants.
The whole cell phone industry is nickel and diming their customers to death.
What we need is someone to come along and say “here’s 50 Mbps and no cap — have fun”.
I would drop cell coverage and move to Skype in an instant.
Hell, I could get rid of my home internet connection too and get one of these instead.
With those speeds, they could deliver digital TV as well.

globalive yak

There is a player that could deliver this kick, and it’s
Globalive,
better known as the provider of Yak.
TMCnet describes Globalive’s strategy a month ago (Mar 17th):

New cellphone player Globalive will hire more than 1,000 employees as it works to become a major wireless player in Canada, aiming to take away customers not only from Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Telus (TSX:T) and Bell (TSX:BCE) but also their discount brands.

Globalive Wireless Management Corp. isn’t going to position itself only as a discount cellphone player where there’s already competition, CEO Anthony Lacavera said Monday.

“Really, we’re going to be split into two brands,” Lacavera said from Toronto.

Globalive is looking to be Canada’s fourth major wireless carrier, with a national presence except for the province of Quebec.

Lacavera said that means fighting the three established cellphone players on two fronts.

One brand will give Globalive’s Yak long-distance and Internet customers the opportunity to have cellphones, taking on Rogers’ Fido, Telus’ Koodoo and Bell’s Solo discount brands.

The other higher-end brand will take on Rogers, Bell and Telus with mobile phones, including smartphones, with more features and fixed price plans with no contracts or limited contracts, he said. Its name and launch are still being worked out.

“At the end of the day, it’s easier for us to have a two-pronged strategy because we already have the Yak brand in the marketplace with customers.” Toronto-based Globalive said it services more than a million customers with brands such as Yak, Canopco and OneConnect.

While the weak economy is a concern for Globalive, Lacavera said it’s “monitoring” competitors Rogers, Telus and Bell even more closely.

Globalive plans to have its wireless network up and running in Toronto and Vancouver with fixed price plans around Christmas, Lacavera said, with other areas coming into service in 2010.

Ottawa held an auction last spring for radio waves over which cellphone networks to create more competition and more choices for consumers in the mobile phone industry, currently dominated by the big three players.

Globalive spent more than $442 million for spectrum in the auction which raised about $4 billion for the federal government’s coffers.

Analyst Troy Crandall said the discount end of the market is full.

“Everybody has been going after this lower-end market,” said Crandall of MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Montreal.

“So who’s left? I guess the people who can’t afford to spend $15 a month,” he said, referring to Rogers Fido, which has plans from $15 and no system-access fee.

Globalive is one new entrant, along with regional networks being planned by Montreal-based Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) through its Videotron cable unit and Toronto-based Public Mobile, which was born out of BMV Holdings.

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B), which owns western Canada’s largest cable company, also bought spectrum but hasn’t announced plans for a wireless network.

Analyst Mark Goldberg said it’s still not clear what Shaw and Toronto-based DAVE Wireless will do with the spectrum they purchased, noting that new wireless players have come forward and the three established players have said they need it to increase capacity.

“DAVE and Shaw have written cheques and they’re sitting on an asset which is spectrum and it’s an expensive asset,” said Goldberg of Toronto-area Mark Goldberg and Associates. “I think people want to know when they’re going to make use of the asset.” Globalive said Monday it has officially been issued its wireless spectrum licences from Industry Canada and will make a significant investment in its network.

Lacavera said Globalive will hire a couple of hundred people to build its network, 300 to 400 people for its call centre in Windsor, Ont., where it already has 100 employees to support its Yak customers. The balance of the employees will be in support, billing, marketing and management.

Globalive has about 300 employees and Globalive Wireless has 70, he said.


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