Interesting read @JesseBrown: “Xplornet asked me not to write this”

Monday, 18 July, 2011

Interesting read. Check out @JesseBrown: “Xplornet asked me not to write this” [HT @mgeist]

If you don’t have time to read the full article, (actually you should really find the time as it is fun and insightful reading), here is an excerpt from “Xplornet asked me not to write this“,

“In the interests of fair and balanced journalism, here is what you should know about Xplornet and what they want you to know. I’ll even put their stuff in bold:

  1. It took 16 months for Xplornet to conform to the CRTC’s disclosure demands. But they weren’t ignoring the CRTC—they were in constant communication during that time.
  2. When they did finally tell customers what they were doing, it was after the CRTC threatened to haul them into a public proceeding—but that’s not why they did it.
  3. They degraded the speed of a competitor’s Internet phone service (VOIP) to the point where it was unusable—but they did so by accident. It was a technical problem with a codec.

Perhaps Xplornet is satisfied that this matter is now cleared up. Or perhaps they regret accidentally turning a spotlight on themselves while fumbling to shut off the power.”

P.S. You may also want to read David’s “More complaining: a “warning” about Geist’s “allegations”


Worth Reading: WIND Mobile/Globalive is Canadian, Facebook facial recognition, Canucks fans, Calgary postal strike, FT app

Wednesday, 8 June, 2011

* Financial Post, “Globalive declared a ‘Canadian owned and controlled company’

* CTV News, “Court victory clears way for Globalive

* CNN, “Facebook lets users opt out of facial recognition” (Note: This is ass-backward, kinda like the “negative option billing” thing cable companies tried on us until we complained loud enough and they stopped.)

* Bloomberg, “Facebook Under EU Privacy Probe Over Facial-Recognition Prompt for Photos

* TorStar, “Drubbing brought Canucks fans closer, but the real healing begins tonight

* Calgary Herald, “Calgary postal service disrupted as workers walk off job for 24 hours – Job action expected to last 24 hours

* Macrumors, “Financial Times Won’t Give Apple A Cut, Drops iOS for Web App


Ottawa’s Globalive (WIND Mobile) decision overturned by Federal Court

Friday, 4 February, 2011

Feb 15, 2011 Update: CBC News, “Globalive ruling to be appealed by Ottawa

Feb 17, 2011 Update: “Globalive appeals court ruling, seeks to extend stay

***

As a WINDmobile customer, I’m surprised & angered to see Ottawa’s Globalive decision overturned by federal court. From CBC (with video interview of WIND Mobile CEO Ken Campbell),

“On Friday, Federal Court Justice Roger Hughes found Ottawa’s move was based on “errors of law” and ruled it null and void. He also ordered a 45-day stay in the ruling, meaning the company has time to appeal and continue to operate in the interim.

“We are very disappointed with this decision,” Globalive chairman Anthony Lacavera said. “We are examining our options but this is not over yet. We don’t intend to back down.”

Since its launch a little more than a year ago, Wind has already accumulated 250,000 customers, he noted.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government is studying the ruling and examining its options. “Our [government] stands with consumers who want more competition,” he said in a tweet.

Later, Clement commented on the decision in an interview to air Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House.

“I’ll be studying the decision and reviewing our options, but … our government still believes very strongly that we should be on the side of consumers, and what consumers want is more choice,” Clement told host Kathleen Petty.”

Here is the court decision (in PDF and in text).

Also see reports by TorStar and Reuters.


CRTC must reverse internet usage ruling: Industry Minister Tony Clement

Thursday, 3 February, 2011

From Industry Minister Tony Clement’s tweets yesterday, looks like the government has made up its mind to order the CRTC to start over on the issue (see also “CRTC must reverse internet usage ruling: Clement” [from CBC]). University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist made a point (emphasis added), “Given that there is no reason or obvious legal mechanism for the CRTC to withdraw its UBB opinions, this appears to confirm that the government will order the CRTC to start over on the issue.

As a consumer and content creator, I think UBB is bad for Canada. I am interested to watch the exchanges/discussions between CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein and House of Commons industry committee members later this afternoon (4-5:30pm EST, Feb 3, 2011) (4:08pm EST update: LIVE feed in progress). If the government want the CRTC to start over, won’t the government/committee need to give some NEW directives to the CRTC?

P.S. Also see Michael’s post, “The Government’s Review of Usage Based Billing: What Should Come Next“.

P.P.S. On a personal note, four of my friends are trained “free market” economists and I am pretty sure it would be a lot of fun if we were to chat about this issue further.


Bell Canada paid $1.3m penalty for violating do-not-call rules

Tuesday, 21 December, 2010
CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein

CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein

Wonderful to see CRTC’s National do-not-call list is sending a message with its $1.3-million fine! (more CRTC info about telemarking.) The following is an excerpt from Calgary Herald “Bell Canada hit with $1.3 M penalty for violating do-not-call rules“. Also see my previous entries about the do-not-call list in 2008 here, here, here and here.

“Bell Canada paid a record-high $1.3-million penalty for “unauthorized telemarking practices,” including the peddling of its own services to people on the national do-not-call list, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced Monday.

“All telemarketers must respect the wishes of Canadians who have registered their telephone number on the National DNCL (do-not-call list) . . . ” Andrea Rosen, the CRTC’s chief telecommunications enforcement officer, said in a statement. “Even though the calls in this instance were made by third parties, Bell Canada must ultimately ensure that the rules are followed. We appreciate Bell Canada’s willingness to work with us to address our concerns.””


NextMedia & Banff World TV Festival 2010 – Day 1 & 2

Tuesday, 15 June, 2010

Tony (WIND Mobile) & Konrad (CRTC)Ricky Gervais & me

The 2010 NextMedia & Banff World TV Festival (combined into one event this year) is turning out to one of my most favourite Banffs possibly because I made a few changes this year. In each of my previous Banffs (starting with my first one in 2006, attending as a CTV Fellow), I tried to pack and do as much as I can every minute which exhausted me completely.

So I decided for my coverage this year, I am no longer going to kill myself to try to write & post as much as I can during the festival (I tweeted a little but not that much). What I decided to do instead is to attend as many interesting sessions as possible, meet and interview some cool & insightful people and share these experiences with you in articles and video clips or video interviews later.

So stay tune for my upcoming blog entries (tagged with bwtvf2010).

The following is not an exhaustive list but only a few that came to my mind,

– the CRTC Chairman Konrad Von Finckenstein speech and an introduction by WIND Mobile Chairman Tony Lacavera (see my previous phone interview with Tony after the gov of Canada overturned the CRTC decision in Dec, 2009). [Tony wasn’t able to do a face to face interview at Banff because he had a plane to catch but he has agreed to another phone interview.]

– an interview with Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo

– an interview with Dick De Rijk, Creator of the worldwide popular game show Deal or No Deal

– an interview with comedian Ricky Gervais (this entry may take longer as I want to include materials and quote from an hour long sit-down interview that Ricky did with an interviewer at one of the session)

– the story of how the Dragons’ Den show format finally manage to break out of Japan and become an international success starting with UK BBC.

– Well, it is getting late and 11:07pm already. I better stop now and get some rest for tomorrow’s reporting (I am hopping to be able to leave before 6pm, will see).

Incidentally, a few reporting colleagues covering Banff have asked me, what do I plan to cover in Banff? Well, I guess for each Banff, there are usually a few people/topics I want to write about, but the rest I just cover topics that are interesting and insightful to me and I hope you (my readers) will find them interesting too.

Here are some photos I’ve taken at Banff2010, enjoy.

*** P.S. ***

2010 Banff World TV Festival articles by reporting colleagues from other media outlet:

– Canadian TV ‘crap’: Alberta culture minister [Lindsay Blackett] (CBC, with audio)

– Comments on Canadian TV get Alberta minister in trouble – ‘Why do we make such shit here?’ Blackett asked Banff festival (Edmonton Journal)


Globalive Chairman Tony Lacavera phone interview (after government overturned CRTC decision)

Sunday, 13 December, 2009

Anthony (Tony) Lacavera, Chairman of Globalive 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 9700Dec 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.“)

Phones, Apple iPhones, and Google Phones

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”.

I’ve asked a few other questions which you can listen to the Q&As in my interview with Tony (mp3 download) or streaming audio here.

*******

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


Globalive decision Tony Lacavera Tony Clement on BNN

Friday, 11 December, 2009

After the government of Canada ground breaking (but part-expected) decision of letting Globalive to launch WIND Mobile in Canada, Globalive CEO Tony Lacavera, Industry Minister Tony Clement, and other experts appeared on BNN.

Here is a link to my interview with Tony Lacavera (include mp3 audio) last year. I’ve requested an interview with Tony through the company’s media relations contacts.

Dec 12 Update: The nice people from WIND Mobile’s PR firm have gotten back to me today. I hope to talk to Tony coming Monday. Will see. I will post my interview afterwards. Stay tune.

Dec 13 Update: Good news. Did an interview with Tony this afternoon. And after spending a few hours cleaning up the audio mp3 and writing the blog entry, I’ve finally finished the article and audio and you can read and listen to the interview here.

Dec 17 Update: New blog entry, “WIND Mobile launch review & details (More details on Plans, Handsets, Prices. – Simple Plans: Chat $15, Always Talk $35, Always Shout $45/mo)


CRTC’s online consultation on TV

Monday, 30 November, 2009

Go share your thoughts with the CRTC.


My Christmas/New Year wish: WINDmobile in Canada

Friday, 27 November, 2009

Like many Canadians, I want to get pay a more reasonable price and get better mobile services. I was hoping WINDmobile would have been launched by now and I will soon be able leave my current provider.

So it was very unfortunate that CRTC threw a curve ball in its decision. But I am determined and I have add WINDmobile to my Christmas/New Year wish list. I hope if enough Canadians speak out and demand mobile competitors like WINDmobile be allowed to compete in Canada, then we can soon have some decent prices and services in Canada. (Note to the Doctor Who fans out there: Remember what Martha Jones did here to defeat the monster? There is hope. :)

I agree with some of the things WINDmobile CEO Ken Campbell said in his post, “No Choice for Canadians This Christmas“,

“Though many Canadians are frustrated in their own experiences with mobile service providers, they don’t understand the scope of the the issues at hand.

For example, did you know that wireless consumers in this country deal with:

Higher prices: Due to lack of competition and real alternatives, Canadians pay an average of 60% more for mobile wireless services than Americans according to the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel.

Staggering complaints: The Better Business Bureau released its list of top ten consumer complaint calls. Cell phone companies tops that list – soaring above car dealers, movers and even utilities. Clearly Canadian consumers aren’t being treated as they should be and they’re not happy about it.

Among the weakest in the world: Canada’s wireless industry is one of the weakest in the developing world. Merrill Lynch puts Canadian wireless penetration at 65 per cent, last among 22 developed countries (below Tunisia and Iraq). The International telecommunications Union (ITU) has tracked Canada’s decline from 35th in 1998 to 128th in 2008 – far behind many underdeveloped nations.

Oligopoly: The Canadian wireless market is dominated by three very large, very profitable players – Telus, Rogers and Bell. This is not a ‘hypercompetitive market’ as they would have you believe. WIND Mobile, is the only new entrant that offers a truly national wireless alternative.”

Check out their print advertisement.

P.S. I am a fan of WINDmobile, but I will be less than honest if I don’t mention that I actually agree with the CRTC’s analysis when it made its decision (see further comments here) that Globalive and WINDmobile are foreign controlled. I just think it is time that our telecom laws are updated to remove the foreign ownership restriction. I don’t usually like the idea of government overruling quasi-judicial bodies’ decisions, but I will make an exception here.

Lets give Canada some needed competitions in the mobile industry by exempting WINDmobile, and lets fix the telecom laws next.

*******

Nov 29, 2009 Update: Here is Tony’s wishes, “It’s Time for Change, Not Short-Change“.

Nov 30, 2009 Update: Wonderful to see “300 Helping Hands at Daily Bread Food Bank“. Go WINDmobile Go!


CRTC’s Globalive decision – A big NO

Thursday, 29 October, 2009

CRTC has handed down its decision (Telecom Decision CRTC 2009-678 or PDF). A scan of the CRTC decision leads me to look at the last two pages of charts plus  107, 108 and 119 summing up the decision,

“107. The concentration of debt and equity in the hands of a single entity can create an opportunity for influence. In circumstances such as the present, where a company is heavily debt financed, this opportunity can translate into significant influence over the venture by the debt holder.”

“108. The magnitude of the debt provided by Orascom, the relative debt to equity financing, and the fact that the debt is concentrated in the hands of a single entity cause the Commission concern with the loans as a source of Orascom influence. The modifications to the covenants and terms of the loans do little to reduce this concern. Furthermore, the Commission notes that covenants similar to those deleted from the Orascom loan agreements are still contained in Schedule A to the Shareholders’ Agreement.”

“119. In light of all the above, the Commission finds that Globalive is controlled in fact by Orascom, a non-Canadian. Therefore, the Commission concludes that Globalive does not meet the requirements set out in section 16 of the Act and is not currently eligible to operate as a telecommunications common carrier.”

I think less competition is bad for Canadian consumers. By the way, in the happier times of Sept 2008, I conducted a phone interview with Tony Lacavera, CEO of Globalive, after they launched a few interesting initiatives that I thought would be good for Canadian consumers.

From CBC,

“The commission found it particularly important that Orascom owns 65.1 per cent of the equity, has entered into a strategic technical arrangement with Globalive, controls and holds the ‘Wind’ brand under which Globalive will operate, and holds the overwhelming majority of the outstanding debt,” the regulator said.

“The commission therefore determines that Globalive has not met the requirements of the ownership and control regime and is therefore not currently eligible to operate as a Canadian telecommunications common carrier.”

The CRTC prescribed a list of changes the company could theoretically make in order to bring itself into compliance, which would include amendments to the composition of its board of directors, liquidity rights and the threshold for veto rights.

However, the fact that Orascom controls almost all of the company’s debt is a factor that cannot be easily resolved.”

More report and analysis from Toronto Star.

From WIND mobile‘s own press release “A Bad Day for Canadians and Wireless Competition in Canada“,

“In its decision, the CRTC came to a different conclusion than Industry Canada and has indicated that Globalive Wireless is not in compliance with the Canadian ownership and control requirements set out in the Telecommunications Act.

“Having already received approval from Industry Canada, we are extremely disappointed that the CRTC has come to a different conclusion,” said Anthony Lacavera, Chairman, Globalive Wireless Management Corp. “This is a bad day for Canadian consumers. Canadians deserve competition in wireless and this decision represents a major step backwards.””

*******

Oct 29, 2009 Morning: Looking forward to the CRTC Globalive decision to be announced later today after markets close. Here is an excerpt from a Canadian Press report,

If the CRTC decides that Globalive is Canadian enough to compete as a new national cellphone company, it’s a decision that’s likely to shake up foreign ownership rules.

Toronto-based Globalive wants to be Canada’s fourth major wireless carrier and compete with Rogers, (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) for consumers who want to buy cellphones. But before Globalive can go ahead with its launch later this fall, it must survive a CRTC ruling expected Thursday on its ownership and structure.

[… RBC Capital Markets analyst Jonathan] Allen said if the CRTC approves Globalive’s bid, it will likely launch in Toronto and Calgary next month.


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