I appreciate very much Globalive chairman Tony Lacavera taking time today (a Sunday) to have an interview with me to talk about Globalive/WIND Mobile‘s plans after the government of Canada overturning the CRTC decision 2009-678 (PDF).
As a current Bell Mobility customer, I am excited to see a new wireless provider coming to the oligopolistic Canadian marketplace. The following are some highlights of my interview with Tony (mp3 download).
* WIND Mobile‘s plan to sign up new customers before Christmas and new year
WIND Mobile stores will open this week and Tony confirmed that WIND will roll out its wireless service as soon as possible and most likely before Christmas. I tried but was unable to get Tony to say the launch will be this week. Tony sees WIND has one chance to demonstrate to Canadians that it is a serious 4th national wireless provider competing with the likes of Bell, Telus, and Rogers. So he wants to launch when everything is ready. (Dec 15th update: BlackBerry Bold 9700. Dec 14th update: According to WIND’s latest press release, at 10:30am on Dec 16th, Tony and Ken Campbell, CEO of WIND will be unveiling the WIND Mobile store, and “the full line-up of products and services. The WIND network is currently live and fully operational with beta customers actively using the service and providing feedback.“)
WIND will have a few different phones available at launch and hope to expand on the choices available to include more offers. At launch, iPhones will not be available but will be available in the near future as WIND network can technically support the phones. As to the Google Phones, Tony also assured me the WIND network can support it when the phones are available. (Dec 14 Update: Some pricing & devices rumours from MobileSyrup, “Are these the Wind Mobile price plans?” and “The week the WIND came rushing in…“. We will know for sure on Dec 16th.)
* Last Friday on BNN, Tony said WIND Mobile has a target of 4-6 million subscribers in 5 years. I asked about their expected number of new customers vs customers that switch?
Tony explained that it will be difficult to estimate as different cities have different number of providers and level of competitions. For example, in Toronto, there are 7 brands/sub-brands operating and that is different from other smaller cities.
(Dec 14 update: BMO Nesbitt Burns telecom analyst Peter Rhamey estimates, “three dominant players – BCE (BCE-T), Telus (T-T) and Rogers Communcations (RCI-T) – stand to see a 5 to 10 per cent decline in subscriber additions next year … along with a price war, will erode earnings per share by 2.5 per cent at BCE and 5 per cent at Telus and Rogers“)
* Comment re “foreign control limits”
In a blog post “Government Overturns CRTC Giving Globalive The Go-Ahead” by University of Ottawa’s Professor Michael Geist, he picked two specific paragraphs in the government of Canada’s “Order-in-Council” (PDF) and his reading and analysis is this (emphasis added),
“These paragraphs signal the prioritization of enhanced competition in the marketplace. With support for foreign investment, the removal of foreign control limits may not be far behind.“
Tony reiterated the importance of the foreign control limits and Globalive is a Canadian company as he had said to other media outlets. You can listen to his answer in the audio interview.
* Telus’ Twitter comment
I asked for Tony’s comment to the following tweet by Michael Hennessy, Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs, Telus
“If Wind is canadian then so was King Tut […]“
and my light-hearted reply to Michael,
“Merry Christmas Michael. My Christmas comes early today! […]“
I will let you hear what Tony said in response to the above tweets in the audio interview. :)
* Few other questions & answers
Tony also indicated that WIND Mobile is a startup company, the network is brand new, and stated that “there is no question that we are going to make mistakes and it is not going to be perfect.” But Tony emphasized their main differences with the incumbents likes of Bell/Telus/Rogers is that WIND Mobile is going to keep listening to customers, “We need feedback on WINDMobile.ca … so we can constantly improve the offering”.
Only time will tell if WIND Mobile can deliver on their promises. The first things we will see are the pricing and service plans. And then the customers will have a chance to give their feedback on the call qualities and internet surfing experiences, etc. Later, we will see if Canadians will get new phone offerings like the iPhones and Androids “soon” as promised. I hope WIND will keep its promises and truly listen to its customers’ feedback and suggestions.
Note: the audio interview has been edited for length and clarity. Some audio segments have been normalized so the volume appears to be more even and the words more audible.
P.S. Thanks again to Tony for taking time to be interviewed on a Sunday and Globalive’s PR firm for arranging it.
P.P.S. In an informal discussion with a participant of the Coase Conference at University of Chicago Law School earlier this month, I mentioned the trouble WIND Mobile had with the CRTC decision 2009-678. The Coase Conference participant made an astute observation which I think is worth repeating (emphasis added),
“… the U.S. also has foreign ownership restrictions on wireless licenses — since a 1927 statute. There are ways to paper over the ownership issue, of course. That’s how Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile USA and how Murdoch’s News Corp. owned TV stations prior to his becoming a U.S. citizen.“
I am not saying we in Canada should blindly follow the U.S.,but in this case I have no problem with the government of Canada using its discretion to do the right thing.
For the interested readers, there are quite a few interesting papers posted on the Coase Conference website. After all “Coase’s work has exerted profound influence, including such areas as telecommunications policy” (Coase‘s profound observations of “use prices to determine radio frequency spectrum use” see this YouTube video and his 1959 ground breaking “The Federal Communications Commission” article).